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Full text of "With Wellington in Spain: a story of the Peninsula"

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WITH WELLINGTON 
IN • SPAIN 

CAP? F • S • BRERETON 




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IP-", 



'tt wL. 





With Wellington in Spain 



By CAPTAIN BRERETON 



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LONDON: BLACKIE & SON, Ltd., 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C. 




TOM IS SUMMONED BY WELLINGTON 



With Wellington 
in Spain 

A Story of the Peninsula 



BY 



CAPTAIN F. S. BRERETON 

Author ot "The Great Airship" "Kidnapped by Moors" 
"A Boy of the Dominion" "The Hero of Panama" &c. 



ILLUSTRATED BY W. RAINEY, R.I. 



BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED 

LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY 
1914 






Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/withwellingtoninOObrer 



Contents 



Chap. Page 

I. Septimus John Clifford & Son 9 

II. Underhand Conduct 25 

III. Aboard a British Frigate 46 

IV. A Naval Encounter 67 

V. Prisoners 87 

VI. Napoleon the Ambitious 105 

VII. A Tight Corner 124 

VIII. Tom Changes Quarters 143 

IX. Hard Pressed ------- 1162 

X. The Great General 185 

XI. On Active Service 202 

XII. Guarding the By-ways 222 

XIII. ClUDAD RODRIGO 240 

XIV. One of the Forlorn Hope - 263 

XV. Round about Badajoz 281 

XVI. The Battle of Salamanca - - - - 302 

XVII. A Clue at Last ------- 321 

XVIII. The Conspirators' Den 337 

XIX. Tom Thinks Furiously 354 

XX. A Brilliant Capture 371 



Illustrations 



Page 

Tom is Summoned by Wellington - - Frontispiece 300 

"Crash! went the Broadside" 72 

The Peasants Break in the Church Doors - - 112 

"Gripping one of the ladders dragged it aside 

with all his force" 169 

"To HIS amazement the man clutched him by the 

hand" 225 

Tom Escapes from Ciudad Rodrigo - 258 

A Clever Disguise - - - - - - - - 324 

The Fat Man Threatens Tom 345 



WITH 
WELLINGTON IN SPAIN 



CHAPTER I 

Septimus John Clifford & Son 

No cooler spot could be imagined on the hottest 
midsummer day than the picturesque forecourt of the 
premises occupied by Septimus John Clifford & Son, 
wine merchants, importers and exporters. 

Behind the forecourt, crowding the latter closely 
towards the edge of the River Thames, some few 
hundred yards below the point where the stream 
swept and swirled through the arches of the bridge, 
stretched an irregular block of buildings, that portion 
farthest from the court presenting a somewhat severe 
frontage to the river, its many floors, its narrow win- 
dows, and its winches and hoists dangling outside 
serving to show that it was there that Septimus John 
Clifford & Son stored their goods from oversea. 
Huge doors leading by wide, shallow steps to the 
basement hinted that it was through these easy 



io With Wellington in Spain 

portals that the wines of France, of Spain, and of 
Portugal found access to the vast vaults stretching 
away behind the muddy bank of the river. 

The forecourt and its immediate background bore 
a very different appearance, for the garden, encom- 
passed by moss-grown walls, was ablaze with flowers, 
while one huge mulberry tree reared its foliage before 
the main entrance of the building, its leaves rustling 
against the curious old dormer windows and strangely 
shaped balconies which adorned the front. Beneath 
the grateful shade cast by that mulberry tree lay 
Septimus John Clifford himself, at full length in a 
capacious basketwork chair, oblivious of his surround- 
ings, careless even of the persistent flies that hovered 
about the gaudy silk handkerchief with which he had 
covered his head. Mr. Septimus was asleep. Clerks 
in the busy office within the huge bay window, not 
five yards from him, turned the leaves of musty ledgers 
with pathetic care lest they should awake the ruler of 
this establishment. The office boy, an urchin with 
round, rosy cheeks, swelled to the point of bursting, 
gathered up his feet upon the staves of his chair when 
the head clerk admonished him for shuffling them, 
and cast an anxious eye out through the wide-open 
window. Marlow, the clerk nearest to that sleeping 
form, almost held his breath; for he was apt to grunt 
and expand his lungs with a hiss that was exas- 
perating. 

" One hour, I think," observed Huggins, a white- 
haired clerk, who seemed to be the head of the office, 



Septimus John Clifford & Son n 

consulting a silver watch which was as large as a 
good-sized turnip. " One hour precisely, I make 
it." 

" And four minutes," ventured his assistant, a thin, 
lanky man, white-haired like his comrade. " It is 
time to wake him." 

" Yes, now; he would not forgive delay." 

Huggins rose silently from the high stool on which 
he was seated and crossed to the door on tiptoe. He 
descended the picturesque steps leading from the main 
entrance to the place with as much care as he would 
have employed had he been stepping over hot bricks, 
and advanced to the side of his master, as if deter- 
mined to leave him asleep till the very last possible 
moment. For that was the spirit which pervaded the 
establishment of Septimus John Clifford & Son. A 
good master was served by loyal and grateful clerks, 
of whom none were more loyal and thoughtful than 
Huggins, the stout, clean-shaven, white-haired man 
who had spent thirty years of his peaceful life in the 
office. 

"Hem! Three o'clock," said Huggins, coming to 
a standstill and casting his eyes first at the sleeping 
form of his master, then at the waving foliage of the 
mulberry tree, and later out across the river to the 
southern shore, then almost devoid of houses. For 
we do not speak of London in this year of grace 1913, 
but of London in 18 10, a city of huge proportions 
even then, but small and puny when compared with 
the mass of buildings which now stretch far and wide. 



i2 With Wellington in Spain 

Smoke stacks and chimneys belching forth huge bil- 
lows of dark cloud were not then such a feature of the 
giant capital. Green fields and waving trees came 
close up to the opposite bank of the Thames, while 
the few houses there were, the open country, and the 
stretch of shimmering water, with its quaint river 
craft, made a picture that was fascinating. From 
the shade and shelter of the forecourt the view was 
perfectly enchanting, and for a little while held all 
Huggins's attention, even though he looked out upon 
it every day of his life. Then he hemmed again, and 
gently touched the sleeve of the sleeper. Mr. Septimus 
stirred, then, hearing a cough beside him, sat up 
briskly, drew the handkerchief from his head, and, 
folding it with care, placed it in his pocket. 

" Three o'clock, sir," said Huggins. 

" No more?" asked Mr. Septimus. 

" Five minutes past." 

"Four," declared Mr. Septimus, consulting his 
own watch — one, too, of vast proportions. "The 
post has come?" 

Huggins nodded. 

"From Spain?" 

"There are four letters." 

"And from Portugal?" asked Mr. Septimus eagerly. 

"One only." 

"Drat the war!" cried Mr. Septimus, sitting for- 
ward with energy. "First this Bonaparte, Emperor 
of the French, disturbs all trade by pouring his 
soldiers into the Peninsula, and then he keeps up 



Septimus John Clifford & Son 13 

the disturbance by refusing to agree that he's beaten. 
He's beaten, ain't he, Huggins?" 

" If not quite, then nearly, sir," came the respectful 
answer. " But they say that Wellington has cleared 
Portugal of the French. Stocks of wines are coming 
through more freely." 

The reminder seemed to hearten the master of this 
establishment; his face assumed a cheerful expres- 
sion. Not that it had appeared seamed with care 
before, for Septimus was the personification of good 
humour. He was a short, stout little man, bald 
headed and slightly bandy legged. Round, inquisi- 
tive goggles sat on a broad nose that spoke of good 
temper. A white muffler and stock, together with an 
even whiter waistcoat, covered a frame which may be 
described as decidedly ample, while shapely legs — 
shapely even though prone to bandiness — were clad 
in snuff-coloured overalls, which fitted like the pro- 
verbial glove, and set off a figure that was decidedly 
attractive and gentlemanly. 

He stretched out a hand and took the letters which 
his clerk had brought for him. Then, selecting the 
one from Portugal, he opened it with the blade of 
his penknife. 

" From Dom Juan de Esteros," he said, extracting 
the sheet within the envelope. "Ha! That is good 
news. The tide of war turns to Spain, and wines are 
accumulating at Oporto. That is good, Huggins. 
Our clients will be glad to hear that we can soon 
replenish their cellars. Business will look up." 



14 With Wellington in Spain 

Huggins nodded, while his sallow features reddened 
a trifle; for what concerned the house of Septimus 
John Clifford & Son concerned him, not from the 
pecuniary point of view, seeing that he was paid a 
steady salary whether business were good or bad, 
but because of his sympathetic interest in the firm. 

"We can do with it, sir," he said. "Things have 
been a little slow in the office. There has been little 
work after three o'clock. The clerks have been in- 
clined to become sleepy." 

"And no wonder," responded Septimus, looking 
up with a laugh. w Like master, like man, Huggins. 
Can't blame 'em for sleeping after dinner if I do. 
It's a bad habit, Huggins, a bad habit. All the 
same, I believe it helps one wonderfully. Couldn't 
get through these hot days if it weren't for the forty 
winks I snatch. But let's see. Dom Juan — ah! he 
thinks the time has come for us to have a direct re- 
presentative in Oporto. Talks of indifferent health 
caused by the anxieties of the war. Asks us to send 
someone." 

"Ahem! Yes, sir," came from Huggins sug- 
gestively. 

"To send someone," repeated Septimus. "A re- 
presentative, Huggins. Eh?" 

"Master Tom," came promptly from the clerk. 
"And son, sir— Clifford & Son." 

He laid special emphasis on the last two words, 
causing Mr. Septimus to look up at him and discover 
the old servant's face glowing. As for the owner of 



Septimus John Clifford & Son 15 

this successful business of wine merchants, we can 
only say that he, too, looked enthusiastic. 

"And son — yes, Huggins," he said. "How long 
is it since there was a son?" 

"Seventeen years three months and two days, sir," 
was the answer. " Master Tom's age exactly." 

" To the minute almost," laughed Septimus. " He's 
the one; he shall represent the firm at Oporto." 

By the interest and attention these two gave to 
the affair one would have imagined that it was an 
entirely novel subject of discussion, whereas, to be 
precise, this quaint pair had long since settled the 
matter. For the "& Son" had become a feature of 
the business. Two centuries earlier Clifford & Son 
had first hung their trade sign outside those same 
premises, only in those days the house was exceed- 
ingly small and unpretentious. Still, there had been 
a son in the business, and thereafter, as the years 
passed, a succession of sons, while Septimus John 
had become, as it were, part of the stock-in-trade of 
this old house which boasted of the " & Son " always 
attached to it. However, in latter days, there had 
come a time when that old boast had almost failed 
them, for Mr. Septimus had succeeded his father at 
the age of thirty, exactly and precisely one day after 
the birth of his own boy. It was this same infant, 
christened Septimus John Esteros Thomas Clifford, 
who was now under discussion. 

"You'll send him, of course, sir," exclaimed 
Huggins. 



16 With Wellington in Spain 

"Of course. He'd have gone two years ago if it 
hadn't been for the war. Drat the war, Huggins!" 
cried Septimus peevishly. " It has upset all my 
plans and ruined business. Here's Master Tom 
kicking his heels about the place and attempting to 
learn Spanish and Portuguese, when he should be in 
Oporto learning the languages simply because he 
couldn't help doing so, and at the same time attend- 
ing to the business. I did that. I went out when I 
was sixteen, and came home for good at thirty. The 
son in this firm has been wanting ever since, for 
always the father has managed here in London, while 
the son has worked the business in Oporto. Tom shall 
go, and quickly too; I'll see him. What's that?" 

Both heads were raised promptly, while Mr. Sep- 
timus and his clerk remained in their respective atti- 
tudes listening intently. From the room behind the 
wide bay window where the office staff worked there 
came not so much as a sound. Doubtless the white- 
haired junior clerk and his helpers still pored over 
their ledgers, while the fat office boy still sat with his 
legs curled around the supports of his stool. But from 
a room overhead there came the sound of strife. A 
girl's voice was heard, then came that of some young 
fellow, piercing and high pitched and querulous. 
The noise of a blow followed, a dull, heavy sound, 
which gave one the impression that a fist had de- 
scended on someone's jaw. A thud telling of a 
tumble came to the ears of the listeners almost imme- 
diately afterwards. 

(C570) 



Septimus John Clifford & Son 17 

Mr. Septimus rose to his feet with agility and 
gathered up his letters. There was a severe look on 
his face as he made towards the steps leading into 
the house. 

" Those two quarrelling," he said over his shoulder. 

"Then it isn't Master Tom's doing," declared 
Huggins, with decision. "That Master Jose's 
always at him. He's sly, he is; he's jealous of 
his cousin." 

"Then it'll be a good thing when they're separated. 
Ah ! There again !" cried Mr. Septimus, as the sound 
of other blows came to his ears, as well as a scream 
of rage. "I'll go to them; this conduct is dis- 
graceful!" 

He bounded up the steps at a speed that would 
have surprised those who did not know him; for, as 
we have explained, the head of the firm of wine mer- 
chants was distinctly stout, and his appearance belied 
all suggestion of activity. But Septimus could move 
quickly when he liked, while his business hours were 
characterized by bustle. He stepped hurriedly across 
the hall and went up the wide oak staircase two steps 
at a time. He was panting just a little when he 
reached the door of the apartment wherein the scuffle 
was taking place and threw it wide open. And there 
he stood for a little time, breathing deeply, regarding 
the people in the room with wide-open eyes, which 
seemed to fill the whole area of his spectacles and 
take in everything. 

"Stop this instantly!" he commanded, seeing two 

(C570) 2 



1 8 With Wellington in Spain 

lads struggling together in the far corner. "I have 
never seen anything more disgraceful." 

The scene before him might well have drawn such 
words from the lips of the head of such a decorous 
firm as Septimus John Clifford & Son ; for the room 
was in confusion. A heavy desk, occupying the 
centre, that would have been upset but for its weight, 
had been jerked out of position and now stood at an 
angle. A chair lay on its back, while an inkpot of 
large dimensions lay against the near wall with a 
wide puddle of ink about it, and the panelled wall 
itself was splashed in all directions with the same 
dark fluid. A young girl some sixteen years of age 
gripped one side of the desk, and stood there watch- 
ing the contest with staring eyes that were decidedly 
frightened. Two lads occupied the centre of the 
picture, and as Septimus entered they were locked 
together in a firm embrace, each one endeavouring 
to belabour the other. But at the voice of command 
they broke away, one of them, a youth of medium 
height, promptly turning from his antagonist toward 
the door. The movement was the signal for the other 
to strike out swiftly, sending his fist crashing against 
the other's head, and following the cowardly move- 
ment by a kick which cut the feet of his opponent 
from beneath him, and brought the lad with a thud 
to the floor. 

"That was a coward's blow!" declared Septimus 
hotly, advancing into the room; "the kick was con- 
temptible. Stand away in that corner, Jose. I will 



Septimus John Clifford & Son 19 

thrash you severely if you attempt another move- 
ment." 

He closed the door quietly behind him, placed 
a seat at the desk so that he could see all three 
within the room, then slowly wiped and adjusted his 
glasses. 

" Please explain," he began icily, when finally his 
glasses were adjusted. "I left you here at two 
o'clock. You had work sufficient to last you till the 
evening. What is the meaning of this disgraceful 
interruption? You, Tom, answer." 

He looked closely at each of the lads in turn, and 
then fixed his eyes upon the one who had been struck 
in such a cowardly manner by the other. In doing 
so Septimus Clifford looked upon the counterpart of 
himself. For before him was the son who was of 
so much importance to the house of Clifford, the son 
who was to represent the firm in Oporto — the one, in 
fact, whom the reader will already have observed was 
particularly favoured by Huggins. Tom was of middle 
height, as we have remarked, well built and solidly 
put together. In spite of his ruffled hair and his 
flushed face there was something undoubtedly attrac- 
tive about the young fellow, so much so that Septimus 
could not fail but note it. 

" Looks me square in the face and eye," he mut- 
tered beneath his breath. " That's the way with the 
Cliffords. Knows he's probably in for a licking, and 
yet don't funk it. He's ready to receive what he's 
earned, and ain't going to lie to lessen the punish- 



20 With Wellington in Spain 

ment. Well?" he asked severely, for Septimus was 
not the one to show favour. 

But Tom made no answer. He stood squarely 
facing his father, his character clearly shown upon 
a face that was decidedly pleasing if not exactly 
handsome. 

" Well?" demanded Septimus again, more curtly 
if anything. 

" Ask him, sir," came the reply, while Tom jerked 
his head at the lad over in the far corner where 
Septimus had ordered him. 

"Then you," exclaimed the stout little man, turn- 
ing to the second youth, he who had delivered the 
cowardly blow and kick. "What have you to an- 
swer?" 

" He started it," came abruptly from the one ques- 
tioned. "Tom called me names and struck me." 

"Ah!" exclaimed Septimus, regarding the youth 
coldly, till the latter reddened beneath his scrutiny. 
"He started it, Jose, you say. Why?" 

The youth addressed reddened even more at the 
question, while his eyes shifted from the face of his 
interrogator to Tom's, and then across to the girl's. 
Contrasting the two young fellows, Tom and Jose, 
one could not compliment the latter; for he seemed 
to be the very opposite of Tom. A year his senior, 
perhaps, he was lanky and lean, while his arms and 
legs and body seemed to writhe and twist as his eyes 
shifted from corner to corner. The chin disclosed 
weakness of character and want of firmness, to which 



Septimus John Clifford & Son 21 

thin lips and watery eyes added nothing. In short, 
Jose was anything but attractive. 

1 'Why did Tom start this quarrel?" asked Septi- 
mus relentlessly, his glasses turned on Jose all the 
while. 

"I don't know," came the surly answer. " He's 
always quarrelling." 

"Then you began the matter?" said Septimus, 
turning upon Tom the same close scrutiny. "Why?" 

"He didn't!" came abruptly from the girl, who 
was standing a few paces from him. "Jose is not 
telling the truth. Even though he is my brother, I 
can't remain quiet and know that he is blaming Tom 
for what is really his own fault." 

Jose's eyes gleamed as his sister spoke. His brows 
were knit together and his thin lips pursed, as is the 
case with one in anger. At that moment this un- 
attractive youth looked as if he would willingly have 
struck his own sister. 

"She favours him," he cried angrily. "She's 
always on his side." 

"Silence!" commanded Septimus sternly. "Now, 
Marguerite, tell me about it." 

" He started to tease me," declared the girl, nodding 
towards her brother. "He splashed the letter I was 
writing with ink, and then threw some over my needle- 
work. Tom asked him to stop, and then called him 
a bully. Jose threw the inkpot at him promptly." 

"Ah!" came from the man seated in the centre. 
"And then?" 



22 With Wellington in Spain 

"Tom knocked him down twice; then they began 
to struggle together." 

" It's a lie!" shouted Jose, beside himself with rage, 
his pale lips trembling. 

" Eh?" asked Tom curtly, advancing a pace to- 
wards him, and looking threatening. 

4 ' Stop!" ordered Septimus, lifting a hand. "By 
rights I ought to leave you two to settle the matter 
between you. I have no fears as to what the result 
would be ; for a man or youth who accuses his sister 
of lying deserves a thrashing, while you, Jose, deserve 
it twice over. You have lied yourself, and I myself 
saw you deliver a cowardly blow. You will remain 
here and go on with your work; Tom will come 
below with me. For the future try to be friendly to 
one another, at least till you are parted." 

"Parted?" asked Tom curiously, while a scowl 
showed on Jose's face. 

" Yes, parted," repeated Septimus. " The time has 
come for you to go to Oporto, Tom, there to act as 
representative of this business." 

Jose's face was a study as he listened to the words 
and saw the pride and enthusiasm with which Tom 
was so obviously filled. Even Marguerite was re- 
garding her cousin as if he were a hero, and, indeed, 
that was the light in which she was wont to look at 
him. For ever since he was a little fellow Tom had 
been Marguerite's special protector, and often and 
often had he saved her from her brother's ill treat- 
ment. Jose was, in fact, a bully. Sneaking and mean 



Septimus John Clifford & Son 23 

by nature, he was the very opposite of his sister, and 
ever since the two had been brought to the house 
he had been jealous of his cousin Tom. That was 
the secret of their ill feeling from the beginning. 
Provided Jose treated Marguerite fairly, Tom was 
prepared to live on good terms with him. But 
always Jose regarded Tom as a fortunate rival, as his 
future master; for was not Tom the son attached to 
the firm? And now to hear that he was to go to 
Oporto, there to rule the roast, filled Jose with envy 
and hatred. He could see Tom his own master, with 
clerks to do his bidding, while he, Jose, the less for- 
tunate, was slaving at a humble desk in England. 
It roused his ire when he recollected that were there 
no Tom he himself would fill his place, and would 
one day be the head of the firm of Septimus John 
Clifford & Son. 

The scowl on Jose's face had deepened as Sep- 
timus spoke. Tom's happy features incensed him to 
the point of bursting. A moment or so later, when 
the door had closed between him and the other three, 
and while their steps still resounded in the passage, 
Jose gave full vent to his hatred and anger. He 
pranced up and down the room. He glared out 
through the window as Tom appeared, and if looks 
could have killed, that young fellow would have 
ceased to exist forthwith. Then Jose flung himself 
petulantly on to a chair, buried his face in his hands, 
and remained in that position for some few minutes, 
his restless limbs writhing and twitching meanwhile. 



24 With Wellington in Spain 

Suddenly, however, he sat up and stared hard at 
the wall opposite. 

"Why not?" he asked himself, as if apropos of 
nothing, while a cunning leer bent his lips. "If 
there were no Tom, Jose would go to Oporto. And 
who would carry out the work more fittingly? Tom 
shall not go there. I swear that I will prevent him." 

He was poring over a book half an hour later when 
Septimus entered the room again with the intention 
of having a serious conversation with him, and to all 
appearances Jose was a different individual. He was 
sorry for the anger he had shown, sorry that he had 
insulted his sister, and eager to be friendly with every- 
one. But, then, Jose was a crafty individual. That 
night as he lay in bed within ten feet of our hero he 
was concocting plans whereby to defeat the aims of 
Septimus, and bring about the downfall of Tom, his 
cousin. 



CHAPTER II 

Underhand Conduct 

Brisk action was a characteristic of Mr. Septimus 
Clifford, though his portly frame gave one the im- 
pression that he might very well be a sluggard. 
However, the bustle in those offices and warehouses 
beside the river, the numerous clerks poring over 
ledgers and papers, and the hands at work in the 
vaults amidst the huge butts of wine told a tale there 
was no mistaking. Order and method pervaded the 
establishment, and the master of the business was the 
creator of that order and method. As we have said, 
too, he was a man of action. 

"I'll send Tom off this day two weeks," he told the 
respectful Huggins on the evening of that very day 
on which our hero was introduced. "That will put 
a stop to all fighting, and no doubt separation will 
wipe out old enmities, and in time to come the two, 
Tom and Jose, will be capital friends. There's a boat 
sailing on Friday fortnight." 

"The Mary Anne" agreed Huggins. "Takes 
hardware from us, consigned to the supply depart- 
ment of Wellington's army. There'll be no difficulty 
in obtaining a passage." 

25 



26 With Wellington in Spain 

"Then make all arrangements, please,'' said Mr. 
Septimus briskly. " I'll have a chat with the lad, and 
tell him what we expect of him. Send him to me." 

The interview between father and son took place 
beneath the mulberry, in the quaint and picturesque 
garden before the house in which the firm transacted 
business, and there, seated in his basket chair, Sep- 
timus discussed affairs with Tom. 

"You'll make every effort to improve and perfect 
your Portuguese and Spanish," he said, "and your 
French will be of the utmost use ; for once the Penin- 
sula War is ended, and the French are driven out, 
it will be one of your duties to arrange for wines to 
come from their country. Of course, at Oporto you 
will place yourself in the hands of your uncle, Dom 
Juan de Esteros, and will learn the business from him. 
Put your back into it, boy, for Dom Juan will, I fear, 
not be long with us. His health, always indifferent, 
has been much broken by the anxieties of the past 
few years. And now you'd best get your things to- 
gether. Take a good stock of clothing, and perhaps 
a good pistol is advisable, seeing that the country of 
Portugal is still in a condition of disorder." 

It may be imagined that the following two weeks 
were filled with moments of interest for our hero. He 
was going abroad for the first time in his life. He 
was about to make a start in the world, and that 
world at this moment looked exceedingly rosy, so 
rosy that Tom's face shone, his eyes flashed, he 
carried himself jauntily, and one and all could see 



Underhand Conduct 27 

that he was full of good spirits to overflowing, and 
was eagerly awaiting the voyage. 

4 * That Master Jose'd give his boots to be in his 
place," reflected Huggins one afternoon, as Tom 
went racing across the flower-decked courtyard, and 
Marguerite after him. " It was a bad day, Emmott, 
for this house when Mr. Septimus took him in and 
gave him a home. Not that I say that of the young 
lady. She's different; she's like Master Tom. We 
all love her." 

" And dislike the brother — yes," agreed the junior 
clerk; "and I too have a feeling that Master Jose 
bodes no good to his cousin. See his face — he's 
watching the two going off down the river." 

Jose was, in fact, lounging in the forecourt, one 
hand resting on the boundary wall, while his lean, 
lanky body and thin limbs twisted and writhed, as if 
to keep still were with him an impossibility. But it 
was not those twisting limbs that repelled the two 
old clerks watching him from the window — it was 
Jose's face. The brows were drawn close together, 
the lips were half-parted, while there was an intense 
look in the eyes which there was no fathoming. 

" Bodes his cousin no good," Emmott ventured in 
low tones. " There's no love lost between 'em. Not 
that Master Tom isn't ready to be friendly. He is; 
for he's one of the easygoing sort. Still, he's a 
stickler for what's proper, and he's stood by Miss 
Marguerite as if he were her own brother. That 
Jose's scowling." 



28 With Wellington in Spain 

The lanky youth was actually doing that. No one 
could doubt the fact; but nevertheless it was impos- 
sible to read the thoughts passing through his brain. 
Could they have done so, both Huggins and Emmott 
would have found ample reason for their feelings of 
uneasiness. For Jose was scheming. Jealous of his 
cousin, as we have said already, he had been envious 
of Tom almost from the day when Mr. Septimus had 
brought his orphaned nephew and niece to his house. 
The children of Mr. Septimus's sister, Jose and Mar- 
guerite, had been born in Oporto, and had had the 
misfortune to lose first their mother and then their 
father, brother of Dom Juan de Esteros. Thereafter 
they had lived with Mr. Septimus as if they were 
his own children. And here was Jose scheming to 
wreck his cousin's chances in the world, whereas 
gratitude towards his Uncle Septimus should have 
made of him a fast friend, and one ready to help Tom 
to the utmost. 

i * Going to Oporto, there to lord it over the office," 
he was muttering between his teeth, as he watched 
Tom and Marguerite departing along the river bank. 
* i That leaves me here to slave over musty ledgers 
and to learn the business from that old slowcoach 
Huggins. Suppose I'll always be a clerk. One of 
these days Tom will come back as master, and then 
he'll order me about." 

It was a petty, childish manner in which to look at 
the matter, and showed the narrow-minded view which 
Jose took of life. Contrary from his cradle almost, he 



Underhand Conduct 29 

was mean in thought and act, and here was one of 
his mean thoughts muttered beneath his breath, while 
his scowling eyes followed the retreating figure of his 
cousin. Jose writhed his way back into the house, 
and appeared again with a cap. Huggins, watching 
from the office, saw him go away along the bank of 
the river after the retreating figures of the other 
two. 

" He's not up to any good, I'd lay," he told his 
fellow clerk, the white-haired Emmott. " What's he 
following for, I'd like to know." 

"Then let me go after him?" asked the other. 
"There's a message to be taken along to the people 
who should have delivered goods to us this morning, 
and I may just as well take it as George, the office 
boy." 

The matter was arranged on the instant, and within 
five minutes Emmott sauntered away in the wake of 
Jose. He followed him at a discreet distance along 
the river bank, till Jose dived in amongst a number 
of houses which clambered down to the water's edge. 
He caught sight of him again beyond them, and half 
an hour later watched him in converse with a ruffianly 
looking fellow whom he had accosted. 

" Don't know the man," Emmott told himself. 
"Never saw him in my life before, so far as I am 
aware. Jose seems to know him. He's — he's giving 
him money." 

Half-hidden behind the wall surrounding a ware- 
house, one of the many erected there — for this was a 



30 With Wellington in Spain 

busy part of the city, and huge barges found deep 
water when the tide was up, and could load right 
alongside the bank — Emmott watched as Jose passed 
something to the hand of the man he was conversing 
with. The latter, a huge fellow, dressed somewhat 
like a seaman, and bearded, might have been a sailor 
from one of the many ships lying in the river, or he 
might have been employed at one of the warehouses. 
He touched his forehead as Jose put something into 
his hand, while the lad himself looked craftily about 
him to make sure that no one was watching. 

" What's he paying him for, that's what I'd like to 
know," Emmott asked himself. " He's up to no 
good; but how can one say that his talk with that 
rascal and the giving of money has anything to do 
with Master Tom? Mr. Septimus would laugh at the 
very idea, and tell us to mind our own business; but 
I for one shall keep my eyes on this Jose." 

If the clerk imagined that he was thereby to catch 
Jose out in some underhand act he was very much 
mistaken, for the young fellow was as crafty as he was 
clever. More than that, though in his heart he hated 
Tom, he was wise enough to know that scowls and 
bad temper would not help him. From that very 
moment, indeed, he put on a smile whenever Tom 
came near, was urbane and friendly with all, and 
appeared to be genuinely sorry that his cousin was 
about to leave them. 

"How'd you like to be a soldier, Tom?" he asked 
his cousin two evenings later, when our hero's prepara- 



Underhand Conduct 31 

tions for departure were almost complete. "They're 
embarking troops this afternoon down the river, all 
bound for Wellington's army." 

It was information which was bound to tempt the 
light-hearted Tom. For years, indeed, he had longed 
to be a soldier, and even now, when his prospects 
with the firm of Septimus John Clifford & Son were 
so apparently good, the old longing still assailed 
him. But if he could not be a soldier in fact, Tom 
could vastly enjoy the sight of troops embarking. 
He leaped at the opportunity, and that very after- 
noon saw him making his way down the bank to 
the spot, some two miles distant, where a sloop lay 
off in the river. Boats were passing to and from 
her when Tom arrived upon the scene, and for two 
hours at least he watched party on party of men 
embark, while his eyes feasted on others drawn up 
in stiff lines on the bank. The bright uniforms, the 
bustle, and the rattle of accoutrements and drums 
fascinated him. His eyes were wide open with envy 
as he noticed that two at least of the ensigns were 
no older than himself. 

"And no stronger either," he told himself. "I'm 
as tall as they are, and though they repeat orders 
splendidly, and don't seem afraid to make their voices 
heard, I reckon I could do the same. What luck if 
the French drove the English back and got as far 
as Oporto. Then I'd see some of the fun. There's 
been terrific fighting in the Peninsula, and folks say 
that there will be a heap more. Ah, there goes the 



32 With Wellington in Spain 

coloners horse aboard! I never saw a horse em- 
barked in my life before." 

Company after company of men descended to the 
boats and took their places. Tom's eyes followed 
with almost childish eagerness the figure of another 
youthful ensign. He was envious of his scarlet uni- 
form, of his belts and sword, and of the gaudy head- 
dress he was wearing. 

" If only I were a soldier," he sighed. " I'd enjoy 
a few years' marching and fighting, and then settle 
down to the business. Ugh! An office stool hardly 
compares with the life those fellows are leading." 

He forgot the hardships inseparable from a soldier's 
life. Tom failed to remember the reports he had read 
of the terrible plight of our men and officers in the 
Peninsula. He knew nothing of wounds, terrible 
wounds often enough, of disease which swept whole 
companies away, or sent them back home helpless 
and useless for the reminder of their lives. He saw 
only the glamour of a soldier's lot, the gallant uni- 
forms, the jolly comrades, the bustle and movement 
of the life. So entranced was he, in fact, that he 
could have remained there for hours an interested and 
envious spectator. But the evening was drawing in, 
while only one company remained to be embarked. 
With a sigh, therefore, Tom turned about and began 
to retrace his steps along the bank in the direction of 
the premises of Septimus John Clifford & Son. 

" I'm a fool to let the wish to be a soldier upset my 
keenness for office work," he reflected after a while. 



Underhand Conduct 33 

" There are lots of chaps who would give their eyes 
for the opportunities I have. Yes, I'm a fool. I 
must settle to the thing I've got, and — all the same 
I hope there'll be some fighting round about Oporto." 

" Hello, my sport!" he suddenly heard, as he was 
passing down a narrow street between two of the 
many warehouses in that district. "Just hold hard, 
and give us a pipe of 'bacca." 

A huge individual came rolling towards him out of 
the darkness of a passage cutting into the street, and 
was followed by a second man, smaller than the first, 
but, if anything, more forbidding. Not that Tom 
could see them clearly, for it was very dark in that 
narrow street, the walls and roofs of the warehouses 
shutting the place in completely. 

" Hold hard, shipmate," the big man exclaimed 
again, rolling forward. "A fill o' 'bacca ain't too 
much to ask from a man that follows the sea." 

He was close beside Tom by then, while his shorter 
companion was immediately behind him. Even in 
that dark place one could see enough of the couple 
to feel sure that they were anything but desirable, 
and for a moment Tom considered the advisability of 
taking to his heels. But then, reflecting that here 
in the neighbourhood of the docks and quays there 
must be many seamen ashore on leave, and all perhaps 
hilarious, he turned to the strangers and answered 
them pleasantly: 

" Sorry I can't oblige," he said. " I haven't started 
smoking yet." 

(C5T0) 3 



34 With Wellington in Spain 

" What, my lively! ain't started smokin' yet?" came 
from the bigger man. " Strike me, Bob, but here's 
a lubber as don't even chew, let alone take hold of 
a pipe!" 

There came a giggle from the smaller man, who 
sidled forward, and coming from behind his com- 
panion, edged up to Tom's side. 

" Don't smoke nor chew," he giggled in a queerly 
deep, gruff voice. " Most like he's a young gent that 
has got out o' nights without his mother knowing." 

He dropped a parcel which he was carrying be- 
neath one arm, and then stooped at once to pick it 
up. A moment later he had sprung up behind Tom, 
and with a quick movement had swung his parcel 
above our hero's head. What followed took the young 
fellow so utterly by surprise that he was completely 
dumbfounded; for a sack was drawn down over his 
head and shoulders, and long before he could lift his 
arms the bigger man had flung a coil of rope around 
him, pinning Tom's arms to his side. But still he 
could fight, and, seized with desperation and with 
anger, Tom lurched this way and that, kicking out 
in all directions, hustling his captors from side to 
side till what appeared to them at first a game began 
to annoy them. The bigger man clenched a huge 
fist and drove hard at the centre of the sack with 
it. 

"That's silenced him and made him quit foolin'," 
he grunted brutally, for Tom dropped instantly and 
lay inert on the ground. "Jest get a lift on to his 



Underhand Conduct 35 

toes, Bob; I'll take his head. We'll have him in 
chokey afore he's shook the stars out of his eyes." 

Without the smallest show of haste the two ruffians 
picked up their burden and went off down the narrow 
alley leading from the street. There was no need for 
them to fear interference, for police hardly existed in 
those days, while respectable individuals did not 
patronize the neighbourhood of the docks once night 
had fallen. Business men, living as they did in the 
early years of the nineteenth century above their 
premises, sat in the candlelight behind their shutters 
once evening had come, and if they ventured forth at 
all, took some sort of guard with them. It followed, 
therefore, that no one even observed the two men 
strolling away with their burden. Even had they 
been seen, the observer would in all likelihood have 
hurried away in the opposite direction, for drunken 
sailors were inclined to be more than rough. Robbery 
was not by any means unknown, while even murder 
was now and again committed in the slums adjacent 
to the river. 

In less than ten minutes from the moment when 
Tom had been so hardly treated the two men came 
to a halt at a low doorway, the bigger of the two 
beating upon it heavily. 

"Open!" he shouted, as if there were no need for 
concealment, and he had no reason to fear being over- 
heard. "Open quick, or Sam here'll want to know 
the reason why there's delay." 

" Comin'," ejaculated his small companion in that 



36 With Wellington in Spain 

same strangely deep and wheezing voice, a voice 
which by rights should have belonged to a man of 
double his proportions. " I can hear the lass a-comin', 
Sam. Here she is. This is one more to add to the 
boys we're collecting. ,, 

At that moment, while the little man was in the act 
of stuffing some hard black cuttings of tobacco into 
a short pipe, the door of the house they had come to 
was opened noiselessly, and there appeared a frowsy- 
headed woman bearing a smoking oil lamp. She stood 
aside without a word and waited for the two men to 
carry in their burden. The door closed, and the pro- 
cession passed through a passage into a large room, 
just within the doorway of which sat a man as big as 
he who had been called Sam, armed with pistol and 
cutlass. Half a dozen other men were in the place, 
breathing an atmosphere that was almost stifling. 
A dangling lamp shed a feeble light on every hand, 
while in one corner stood a bottle, in the neck of 
which was secured a lighted candle, with the aid of 
which another armed individual was laboriously spell- 
ing out the print on a piece of torn newspaper. 

"What ho!" he cried, looking up, and disclosing 
a countenance which was distinctly brutal. A towsled 
head of hair, which would appear to have been inno- 
cent of receiving any attention for a long while, 
covered forehead and ears and neck, and was in- 
separably joined to a pair of side whiskers that 
might have been combed a year before. One cheek 
was deeply seamed by a long, straggling scar, while 



Underhand Conduct 37 

the eye above was covered by a patch of black 
material. 

"What ho!" he cried again, leering at the new- 
comers, and drawing his clay from between his teeth. 
" You've had luck to-night. I can see as you've 
nobbled the one as you was after." 

" And gets double pay," growled the man who sat 
at the door with cutlass and pistol in his lap. " Pay 
from them as has need for lads aboard, and pay from 
t'others as wants to get rid of a friend. You've bagged 
the sum from the covey, Sam?" 

Sam made no answer for the moment, but got rid 
of his burden by the simple and easy method of drop- 
ping Tom's person heavily on the floor. Standing 
over him, he proceeded to fill his pipe, and, having 
completed the task to his liking, stretched across, 
snatched the bottle in which the candle was fixed, 
and sucked the flame into the bowl of his pipe. Then 
his eyes went slowly round the room, and, passing 
the wretch at the door and the one against the far 
wall, he let them fall upon the six individuals who 
also tenanted the room. He counted them carefully, 
and then jerked his head in the direction of our 
hero. 

"Pull the sack off, Bob," he said, "and jest you 
two keep yer tongues close in between yer teeth — 
hear that, Jem, and you too, Sandy? Tight in be- 
tween yer teeth. This here business has to be con- 
ducted with caution and discretion; and if we does 
trade with others besides the folks that pays for the 



38 With Wellington in Spain 

men, why there ain't no need to cry it out for every- 
one to hear — eh?" 

The last exclamation was almost in the nature of 
a threat. Evidently the individual with the patch 
over one eye, who boasted of the towsled head of hair 
and the unkempt whiskers, was known as Sandy, and 
Sam's words, and the scowl he directed at the man, 
had the instant effect of causing him once more to 
busy himself with his reading. The other, the man 
who sat fully armed at the door, and was known as 
Jem, coloured under his tan, looked as fierce as Sam 
for a moment, and then laughed uproariously. 

"You do work yourself up, Sam," he laughed. 
u Who's there here to let on what business we do? 
These?" pointing at the six other inmates of the 
room. " Not much, me hearty. They'll be aboard 
come midnight, and to-morrow they'll be that sick 
they'll have forgotten you and me and everything 
almost. But you've drawn the stuff; been paid by 
that young spark as hired you to work it?" 

Sam answered him with a snort and with a violent 
shake of his head. 

" Presently," he said, meanwhile watching as the 
rascal Bob removed the sack from Tom's head. " All 
in good time. The young nobleman's coming here 
to make sure as there's no mistake, and once the lad 
there's aboard, the rest of it'll be paid. But it won't 
end there." 

"Eh?" asked Jem quickly, while Sandy and Bob 
looked up keenly, avarice and rascality written on 



Underhand Conduct 39 

their faces. " Don't end there," said Jem; " how's 
that?" 

11 Blood money ain't all we gets," lisped Sam, 
allowing a cruel smile to cross his face. " I'll tell 
you why. I know the young spark as got us to work 
this business. Well, when this lad's gone aboard, and 
is away, I'll be axing for more of his gold. Supposing 
he can't pay, then " 

A hideous grin wrinkled Sandy's face, throwing 
into greater prominence the scar that seamed it. 
Bob dragged the sack from Tom's head and then 
turned to smile at his leader. Jem brought a massive 
fist down with a bang on the table, and once more 
burst into uproarious laughter. It was obvious, in 
fact, to each one of these rascals that Sam had at 
hand a ready means with which to force more money 
from the man who had bribed him to capture our 
hero. Let us put the matter clearly. Jose had met 
the ruffian Sam some time before, and had discovered 
him to be one of those infamous crimps who earned 
a rich living by snatching men from their employ- 
ment ashore and passing them over to ships' cap- 
tains. The impressment of men in those days was 
not illegal, and since crews were often enough hard 
to come by, and these rascally crimps were more or 
less a necessary evil, they flourished unmolested, and 
many a poor lad was suddenly torn from his home to 
be smuggled aboard ship, and never heard of again 
by his own people. Also many a private grudge 
was wiped out in this manner. Tom was not the 



40 With Wellington in Spain 

first youth by a great many who had been suddenly 
spirited away at the bidding of, and with the aid of 
gold paid by, a relative. 

As for the others in the room, they were prisoners 
like Tom. Four were young men of twenty-two or 
three, while the others were almost middle-aged, and 
undoubtedly sailors. These two sat at the table, 
smoking heavily and helping themselves to spirits 
contained in a square jar set upon it. The other men 
sat despondently upon a form, eyeing their captors 
resentfully, and yet in a manner which showed clearly 
that all the fight was knocked out of them. Like the 
two at the table they were becoming resigned to the 
position, and no doubt would settle down in time and 
become good seamen. 

i ' Just throw a pail of water over his head," Sam 
ordered, pointing the stem of his pipe at Tom, who 
lay senseless where they had dropped him, his face 
pale in the feeble light of the lamp, his hair di- 
shevelled, while a thin trickle of blood oozed from the 
corner of his mouth. "Then pull his duds off and 
let him have a suit that'll do for him aboard. Ah! 
He's coming round. Trust Sam to strike a blow that 
won't do no harm and spoil trade for him. Sit him 
up, Bob, and when he's feeling more hisself, give 
him a go of spirits and a smoke." 

The whole affair was a horrible exhibition of the 
brutality and the lawlessness of those times — times 
even now designated by some as the good ones. The 
ruffians who plied this human traffic were as utterly 



Underhand Conduct 41 

devoid of feeling as they well could be, and looked 
upon each one of their captures, not as a fellow being, 
but as so much value in gold, silver, and pence, so 
much profit in their business. It is not to be won- 
dered at, therefore, that Tom's forlorn appearance 
had no effect upon them. The heartless and rascally 
Bob procured a pail of water and tossed the contents 
over him, drenching the lad from head to foot. He 
shook him violently, and when our hero feebly opened 
his eyes, the wretch placed a pannikin of strong 
spirits to his lips, dragged his head backwards — for 
he had placed his captive in a sitting posture, his 
back resting against a form — and roughly poured the 
contents into his mouth. The effect was magical. 
Tom sat forward with a gasp, spluttering and choking. 
The colour rushed to his cheeks, and in a twinkling 
he seemed to gather his wits and his memory to- 
gether. How he got into that room, who the people 
were, he had no idea. But Bob's grinning face was 
within his reach, and he was undoubtedly the rascal 
who had dealt with him so roughly but a few seconds 
before. In any case Tom waited for no explanation. 
He launched himself at Bob, struck him heavily with 
his fist, and then closed with him. 

"The young tiger," growled Sam, stretching out 
a huge hand and catching him firmly by the shoulder. 
" Blest if he isn't the boy to fight them Frenchies. 
Avast' there, me hearty! Bob ain't used to violent 
assaults." 

Bob evidently was not accustomed to hard knocks 



42 With Wellington in Spain 

himself, though he might often enough have cause to 
give them to others while plying his nauseous trade. 
In any case he was furious, and but for Sam, once 
the latter had torn Tom away from him, the smaller 
man would have vented his wrath by striking his 
almost fainting prisoner in the face. 

" Avast there!" shouted Sam, keeping him off. 
" Ain't I axed you to bring him round quick, seeing 
as how the pressgang'll be along in a winking? Ain't 
we got to change his duds, and you there trying to 
make things wuss? Get off for the togs ! Sandy, jest 
mix another go o' grog. It'll pull him round lively. 
Jem, I leaves him in your charge while I goes into the 
other room to do a little business." 

Let the reader imagine a pale-faced and frightened 
youth cringing in the squalid den to which the rascal 
Sam made his way. There, beneath the same smoky 
lamp which the woman had borne to the door, sat 
Jose, writhing this way and that, his limbs never at 
rest for a moment, his fingers twining, his eyes shift- 
ing to every quarter, his lips twisting this way and 
that. Jose would have run from his own shadow on 
that occasion. The enormity of the crime he was 
perpetrating had frightened him intensely. Not 
that he thought of Tom; he was considering himself 
entirely. What if the whole foul scheme were dis- 
covered? What if Septimus were to learn of his 
action? 

"Ho!" shouted Sam, bursting in upon him. 
"Come to see as all's well?" 



Underhand Conduct 43 

Jose could not answer; his knees positively shook 
beneath him, while his bloodless lips would not frame 
the words he wished to utter. He lifted squirming, 
trembling fingers to his lips and mouthed at Sam. 
And then, with a huge effort, he managed to blurt 
out a few words. 

" You — you've done it?" he asked. 

" In chokey nice enough, master. Jest come along 
and take a squint at him. If he's the bird — and I 
don't doubt it — why, the trick's done, the .money's 
earned, or mighty near it." 

He led the trembling youth to the door of the other 
room, now closed upon the poor fellows placed there, 
and sliding a shutter to one side bade Jose look in. 

"Eh?" he growled in his ear. "The right bird? 
No mistake, my hearty?" 

Yes, there was Tom, pale and worn and sorrowful- 
looking, and more than a little dazed if the truth be 
spoken. Jose recognized him at once, and in place 
of feeling compassion for his cousin let all the old 
feelings of envy and resentment have full sway. The 
eyes looking through the shutter scowled at poor 
Tom. Jose's pallid cheeks suddenly reddened at the 
thought of an approaching triumph. He backed 
away, stepped into the smaller room again, and sat 
dov a with a swagger. 

" He goes to-night?" he asked, with an attempt at 
firmness. 

"To-night! Almost this blessed minute." 

"And all his things are taken from him — clothes, 



44 With Wellington in Spain 

letters, and anything likely to let others identify 
nim?" 

" Everything, on my davy !" came the answer. 

"Then here is the money — take it." 

Jose handed over twenty sovereigns, and as if the 
act had sealed his guilt promptly began to tremble 
and writhe again. It was with a grin of triumph 
that Sam saw him off the doorstep. 

"You'll take more golden coins from the same till 
as you took that from," he gurgled, chinking the 
money in his pocket. " It ain't hard to read that 
you stole it. Well, Sam'll have his eyes on you, 
and ef you don't like to hand out the cash, why, he's 
always got a way by which he'll make you." 

An hour later there was the tramp of many feet in 
the street outside, and a hoarse command was given. 
By then Tom was feeling more himself, and indeed 
was disposed to show fight at any moment. But he 
was one against many, and in spite of protests had 
been compelled to change his clothing. Now the 
door was thrown open, and a dozen seamen marched 
in, each armed with a cutlass. The impressed men 
were placed in the centre of their guard, and were 
marched off down the river. A little later they em- 
barked in a big cutter, a sail was hoisted, and pre- 
sently they were bowling down stream at a pace which 
soon left the neighbourhood of London Bridge behind 
it, and with it the good-hearted Septimus, together 
with the sneaking nephew who had this very night 
done him such a mischief. 



Underhand Conduct 45 

In the early hours Tom was hustled up the high 
side of a huge vessel, and was as promptly driven 
down a steep flight of steps into a dark hole, almost 
as noisome and unpleasant as the one in which Sam 
and his gang had first received him. The rattle of 
ropes and blocks upon the deck reached his ears, and 
soon the vessel rolled and heaved uneasily. They 
were off, leaving behind them some few distracted 
people; for Tom's sudden disappearance caused a 
commotion. He had disappeared as completely as if 
the earth had covered him. Nor was that his father's 
only loss; the cash drawer in his private office had 
been rifled, and some twenty-five pounds were 
missing. 

" Master Tom steal! Never!" exclaimed Huggins, 
when all the facts were before him. 

Mr. Septimus, as may be imagined, was heart- 
broken. When days had gone by, and more than 
a week had passed without even a word from our 
hero, the head of the house of Septimus John Clifford 
& Son became despondent. 

"Dead!" he almost blubbered, as Huggins stood 
before him in the forecourt. 

"Not a bit, sir," came the brisk answer. "Alive 
and kicking. Emmott and I have been looking into 
the matter. Master Tom's at sea; it won't be long 
before we hear from him." 



CHAPTER III 

Aboard a British Frigate 

"Below there! You can come along up on deck, 
me hearties!" 

An age seemed to have passed since Tom and his 
six companions were driven from the deck of the big 
ship to which they had been brought by the press- 
gang, and though the former had slept for many 
hours — for he had been exhausted after such a trying 
experience — yet the few hours he had been awake 
had dragged on leaden wheels. Meanwhile the rattle 
of blocks and ropes overhead had been replaced by 
the gentle surge of water alongside, and by a thou- 
sand strange groanings and squeakings common to 
all sailing vessels. Indeed, placed where he was, 
with his head close to the foot of one of the masts, 
that penetrated the deck of the ship and passed 
through the dark prison in which he and his com- 
rades were confined, Tom could by the vibrations and 
the groanings of the latter tell exactly when the wind 
freshened and the sails dragged more strongly. But 
now, when he had begun to imagine that he would 
never again see the light of day, there was a banging 
overhead, then a square of light appeared, with faces 

46 



Aboard a British Frigate 47 

framed in it, while a hoarse voice bellowed a com- 
mand. Tom rose briskly to his feet, and, seeing the 
ladder, ran up it. 

"Here!" he reported, standing erect and cheerful. 
For Tom was, in his youthful way, quite a philo- 
sopher. "What can't be cured must be endured", 
was one of his maxims. "I'm impressed, by some 
error I suppose, and soon will be able to get the 
matter set right; but for the moment it's just as well 
to appear pleasant. Here, sir!" he reported to a 
short, stumpy individual with a decided flavour of 
the sea about him, and with a nautical appearance 
that would have passed him as a sailor in any port 
in the world. 

"And ready fer duty too, eh, me hearty?" asked 
this bluff fellow, eyeing him critically, and taking 
Tom's measure very thoroughly. Looking back at 
him our hero could not help but see that this sailor 
had a grim expression. His face appeared to say: 
" Well, now, you can work if you like. If you don't 
you'll be hammered." There was a threat in his 
eyes, and a jaunty manner about him which told 
that he was prepared for the most refractory con- 
duct. 

" Ready fer duty, eh?" he repeated gruffly. 

"Yes, sir," responded Tom promptly. 

"Then jest you don't sir me, young feller-me-lad, 
else I'll think you're saucing. But I like yer looks — 
get up on deck with you. Mr. Riley, above there," 
he hailed, throwing his head back and staring up 



48 With Wellington in Spain 

through an open hatch, " here's a lubber as is willing 
and ready fer duty!" 

Tom caught a glimpse of an individual dressed in 
white breeches and stockings, and a blue tail coat 
with some gilt braid about it, and, realizing that this 
must be an officer, promptly mounted the steps. In 
a moment or two he was on deck, standing beneath 
an expanse of white canvas, and upon boards which 
were as white as any tablecloth. Bluejackets were 
moving barefoot about the deck, while right aft an 
officer stood at the rail of the poop, a speaking- 
trumpet in one hand, his eye fixed on a dozen active 
figures scrambling amongst the rigging. Tom gave 
a gasp of pleasure as the sun's rays fell upon him, 
braced himself erect, and then looked the officer in 
the face. He was a young man of twenty-six, per- 
haps, with clean-shaven, keen features, his skin 
tanned brown by exposure, and the corners of his 
eyes wrinkled and puckered as is the case with 
many sailors. For the rest, Mr. Riley was decidedly 
a pleasant, jovial-looking officer, and won Tom's 
confidence at once. 

" Well, my lad?" he asked pleasantly. 

" Ready for duty, sir," reported Tom again, having 
nothing better to say. " And hungry, sir," he added, 
feeling a decided sinking sensation. 

That brought a smile to the lips of the officer. He 
looked our hero up and down, just as the man down 
below had done, and then smiled again. 

" What trade before you joined?" he asked, refer- 



Aboard a British Frigate 49 

ring to a notebook, and producing a pencil with 
which to take notes. 

" None, sir; I am the son of Mr. Septimus John 
Clifford, of London Bridge, wine merchant. My 
impressment must be a mistake." 

" All impressments are mistakes," came the curt 
answer. " You are ready to serve His Majesty?" 

"Yes, sir," answered Tom. "Ready for the mo- 
ment. Later on, when I am able to prove that a mis- 
take has been made, no doubt I shall be released. I'm 
ready for any duty, only I'd like a feed first." 

" No trade; says he is the son of a wine merchant 
at London Bridge. Obviously a gentleman," Mr. 
Riley entered in his notebook. "A likely fellow, 
and cheerful. Will start duty at once, and will- 
ingly. Pass the call there for the master mess- 
man." 

He stood before Tom, his neat figure swaying as 
the ship lurched here and there, his eyes now fixed 
on the swelling canvas, now on the officer at the rail, 
and often, when Tom's attention was attracted else- 
where, at that young fellow himself. 

" Undoubtedly a gentleman," he told himself. " Of 
course in the case of nearly every man who is im- 
pressed there is a complaint that the thing is a mis- 
take, that he ought never to have been impressed. 
In any case the whole thing is disgraceful. Better 
pay and better conditions would attract the right 
stamp of man to the navy. But we're here to carry 
out regulations, not to frame them. I'll keep my 

(C570) 4 



50 With Wellington in Spain 

eye on the lad. Name again?" he asked, making 
Tom jump. 

"Tom Clifford." 

" That the full name?" asked the officer, beginning 
to make another note. 

"Septimus John Esteros Thomas Clifford," re- 
sponded our hero, with a grimace. " Rather a lot 
of 'em, sir, I'm afraid." 

" Enough even for an admiral," laughed the officer. 
"Ah, here's the messman! Waters, just take this 
young fellow with you and see that he gets a good 
meal. Report here to me, Clifford, when you have 
eaten." 

He swung round to stare down into the depths of 
the ship, for sounds were coming from the prison in 
which Tom and his companions had been confined. 
There was the noise of a scuffle, while a glance below 
showed the burly, stumpy salt who had hailed the im- 
pressed men swarming down into the depths. Some 
of the men were, in fact, loath to come up. Unlike 
Tom, they were disposed to be sulky, and, lest trouble 
should follow, three sailors were swarming down after 
the old salt, one bearing a lantern. 

"Below there!" called out Mr. Riley, anxious to 
avoid a struggle. "You men must understand that 
you have been impressed into His Majesty's Navy, 
and any disobedience of orders now, or violence, will 
be treated as mutiny. Send them up, me lad!" 

The lamp shining upon the face of the old salt who 
had led the way below, and the fierce expression he 



Aboard a British Frigate 51 

wore quelled any thought of mutiny there may have 
been, and within five minutes the other six men 
brought aboard with Tom were ranged on the deck, 
pale and dishevelled for the most part, sulky and any- 
thing but cheerful in appearance. Mr. Riley gave 
them the same searching examination that he had 
bestowed on Tom, and then entered their names and 
notes concerning each one in his book. 

"Take them down to the messman and see that 
they have a good meal," he commanded, when he 
had finished. "They'll feel better when they've had 
it; and, mind this, my lads, a sulky face'll do nothing 
for you aboard this frigate. It'll bring kicks and 
cuffs and short rations ; so look at the matter from the 
right point of view and take to the life cheerfully." 

He dispatched them with a pleasant smile, for this 
Mr. Riley was a kind individual, and one well accus- 
tomed to dealing with men. He had the wisdom to 
see that hunger may produce easily enough a fit of 
sulkiness, and seeing that all the impressed men must 
be in want of a meal, and were undoubtedly sulky, he 
sent them off for that meal, hoping that with appetites 
satiated they would take to their duties with the same 
readiness as our hero had shown. Nor was he dis- 
appointed. When, half an hour later, the six men 
ascended to the deck again, they looked far happier, 
and from that moment fell into the ways of the ship 
with a cheerfulness that was commendable. As for 
Tom, he was up before them, and scrambling over 
the deck as best he could — for the breeze had freshened, 



52 With Wellington in Spain 

and the big frigate was jumping about in a lively 
manner — he drew himself up before the officer. 

" Ready, sir!" he said, repeating the old expression. 

" Feel seasick?" came the interrogation. 

" Not a bit, sir. I've been to sea a few times with 
my father. We used to hire a sloop and cruise along 
the coast in summertime." 

"Then you're used to getting aloft?" 

"A little, sir, but only aboard a sloop. These 
masts are terrific." 

He cast his eyes aloft, and the officer likewise. 
There could be no doubt that the masts did tower to 
a great height. But then this was a large frigate, 
with seventy grinning guns behind her closed ports. 
Tom knew that already, for the messman who had 
conducted him below, and who was decidedly a plea- 
sant, kindly individual, had given him much informa- 
tion. The meal, too, had been partaken of on the 
lower deck, where the space between it and that above 
was so cramped that even Tom could not stand up- 
right, while all along the sides, firmly cabled to ring- 
bolts in the deck, were grinning cannon, sponge 
rods and all the paraphernalia necessary for loading 
being hung on racks close to them, and secured there 
firmly. 

"You'd go aloft without feeling squeamish then?" 
asked Mr. Riley, feeling a strange interest in our hero. 

" I'd go, sir," came the ready answer. " Whether 
I'd exactly like it at first is an altogether different 



Aboard a British Frigate 53 

"Then you'll soon have the opportunity of making 
the test. You'll be in my watch, Clifford. Now 
come along up on the poop. Don't forget to touch 
your cap as you come up; ah, wait though! We'll 
put you into proper sailor rig first; I'll send you 
down to be fitted." 

It was perhaps half an hour later when a smart- 
looking young sailor obeyed the call of the boatswain 
and came aft to the poop. Dressed in his new cloth- 
ing, his hair brushed and his face and hands washed, 
Tom looked a really smart young fellow, and Mr. 
Riley smiled his approval when he saw him. 

"Pass him up, boatswain," he called, and at the 
order the burly individual shouted at our hero. 

"Mind yer touch yer cap as you get above," he 
warned him, "just as Mr. Riley had done." And, 
obedient to the order, Tom raised his hand the 
moment his foot touched the poop or quarterdeck of 
the frigate. 

"Come with me, Clifford," said Mr. Riley, leading 
the way. " I'm taking you to the commander. Fair- 
play is a thing a sailor prizes, and, as you complain 
that there has been some mistake about your impress- 
ment, I reported the same to the commander. He 
will question you himself." 

They passed across a snow-white deck and entered 
a gallery, outside which an armed sentry was stationed, 
The officer tapped at a door, and passed in, followed 
by our hero. Tom found himself in a large cabin, at 
the back of which two guns were situated, roped and 



54 With Wellington in Spain 

secured to deck rings as were those others he had 
seen in the 'tween decks. An officer, dressed just 
like Mr. Riley, but evidently older, sat at a table, 
with charts spread out before him. He looked up as 
the two entered, and then went on writing. 

" One of the new men, sir; impressed two nights 
ago; reports that he was taken in error. You have 
the notes of his case before you." 

Once more Tom found himself being inspected with 
that open gaze which is the right of all officers. He 
returned the glance of his commander respectfully 
and firmly. 

" Age?" asked the officer jerkily. 

" Nearly eighteen, sir. 

"Tell me all about yourself, lad," came from the 
commander, and with such kindness that Tom 
promptly responded. He gave the history of the 
family in a few words, and stated how he was about 
to sail for Oporto, there to learn the business of the 
firm and take charge when proficient. 

"Ah! Anyone with a grudge against you?" was 
asked quickly. 

Tom wondered and racked his brains. He could 
think of no one, unless it could be the grocer's young 
man, who was wont to pass along the river bank 
every morning. Exactly two months before he had 
had an altercation with that young fellow, who stood 
a trifle higher than he did, and was at least a year 
older. He had shown rudeness when passing 
Marguerite, and Tom had resented the rudeness. 



Aboard a British Frigate 55 

The fight that followed had been of the fiercest, and 
the grocer's apprentice had been handsomely beaten. 

"No one, sir," he answered, "unless it could be 
the fellow I had a row with some weeks ago," and 
then explained the occurrence. 

"Pooh! Impossible," declared the commander. 
"Lads who get fighting don't bear ill will. The 
letting of a little blood cures a young chap of that 
entirely. You shook hands?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Good. Then look elsewhere; someone perhaps 
was jealous of you, thought you were a nuisance. 
Who were the other members of the firm and the 
family?" 

Tom told him, wondering all the while whether 
there were one amongst them capable of getting him 
impressed so as to remove him. "Jose?" he asked 
himself. "Impossible! He'd never be guilty of 
such ingratitude to father, though I suppose, if I 
were out of the way, he would succeed to the business 
one of these fine days. 

Little by little the commander ferreted such thoughts 
out of our hero, and ended by placing his finger on 
the name of Jose. 

"Your cousin, you said," he exclaimed. "You 
were always good friends?" 

Tom had to reply in the negative, and give the 
reasons. 

"And he was next in succession to yourself, I 
think?" 



56 With Wellington in Spain 

"Yes, sir. But — but it's impossible! My father 
rescued him and his sister from poverty." 

" Nothing is impossible, my lad. This matter 
must be looked into. There seems no doubt that 
you have been impressed in the hope of removing 
you altogether. Or the matter may have been a 
mistake, helped by the fact that you were in those 
parts at a time when you should have been safely at 
home. For the moment you are in the service of 
His Majesty, and although I could order that you be 
given no duty, I've an idea that that would hardly 
meet with your wishes?" 

"I'd rather work, sir," responded Tom eagerly. 
"I like ship life, and the experience may be useful. 
If only you will give me the opportunity of writing 
home, I will willingly act as one of the hands aboard, 
and work in that way till I am released." 

"That's the spirit, my lad," exclaimed the com- 
mander. "He's in your watch, Mr. Riley, and I 
know you'll look after him. As to writing, you can 
do that; Mr. Riley shall see to it. I also will write 
to your father and to the authorities. We shall fall 
in with a boat homeward bound shortly, and in a 
week perhaps your people will know what has be- 
come of you. There, my lad, I like your spirit." 

The commander shook hands with our hero, an 
uncommon honour, and then sent him off with Mr. 
Riley. And that very night Tom sat down in the 
latter's cabin to write his letter, telling his father 
exactly what had happened. 



Aboard a British Frigate 57 

Next morning, early daylight, the first streak of 
dawn in fact, found him on deck, his feet naked, a 
deck brush in his hand. He joined the gang of 
men engaged in washing down, and, if the truth be 
known, thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Mean- 
while the fine frigate was pressing along under easy 
sail, a fresh wind abeam, ploughing her way through 
a sunlit sea that might have belonged to the 
Mediterranean. 

" We're jest cruising on and off watching for a 
Frenchie, me lad," explained one of his messmates, 
a jovial old salt who had seen many an action at 
sea. 4< There's never no saying when a Frenchie may 
turn up, and then we're bound to be at 'em. But 
they ain't so frequent nowadays as they was. Yer 
see, Spain and Portugal being joined to France, the 
French has simply to slip over the mountains, and 
that's how they're sendin' men in to fill the ranks 
of their armies. Queer thing, ain't it, that Boney 
should want them countries for his own? He's always 
a-grabbin'. The earth won't find lands enough for 
him by the way he's going on. But he'll get beaten 
handsome some day. I ain't so sure as we won't do 
it for him. Know all about this here campaign in 
the Peninsula, as Spain and Portugal's called?" 

Tom modestly admitted that he knew something 
about the fighting. "It's a long business," he said. 
" Boney put his own brother on the throne of Spain, 
and of course the Spaniards wouldn't have him. At 
the same time he had taken Portugal for himself. 



58 With Wellington in Spain 

He's been the terror of Europe these many years, 
and as he aims at subjugating England also, why, 
we gladly agreed to go in and help the Portuguese 
and Spaniards. As for the fighting, there's been such 
a heap of it that it is quite bewildering." 

" Aye, and it's easy to see as you're a gent as has 
been used to better things than the lower deck," said 
the salt. "What're you here for? Grabbin' some- 
thing that wasn't yourn?" 

He put out a hand to touch Tom's sleeve the 
instant after, for he saw him flush with indignation. 
"I'm sorry, lad," he said. " It's plain as it wasn't 
that." 

However, the lower deck in those days was not 
peopled entirely by kindly disposed individuals. 
Bluff and hearty and plucky men there were in 
abundance, if their language was not always refined 
or their habits too particular. But then, as now 
perhaps, the coming of a young fellow of Tom's 
stamp amidst a rather rough crowd was apt to draw 
attention to him, attention not always of the most 
pleasing. And it so happened that there was one 
in the mess to which Tom had been posted who 
seemed to resent his coming. Higgins was a bull- 
necked, squint-eyed young fellow of some twenty 
years, and had been sent from a prison to the navy, 
as had many another. He was possessed of a thin, 
mean face, over which dangled one long forelock. 
For the rest, it may be stated that he was accus- 
tomed as a general rule to say very little, having 



Aboard a British Frigate 59 

discovered himself unpopular amongst the men; 
though, to be sure, whenever there did happen to 
arrive aboard the ship a youngster smaller than 
himself, Higgins was the first to attempt to bully 
him. For some reason he had taken a violent dis- 
like to Tom. Possibly he was jealous of the atten- 
tion he had gained, or of the way in which he came 
to good terms with the men. Whatever the cause, 
he was determined to browbeat him, and took this, 
the first opportunity. 

11 1 dunno as you ain't right, Jim," he sang out 
coarsely, the instant the other had spoken. "Why 
shouldn't he be here for grabbin'? There's lots comes 
to the navy on that account, and why shouldn't he? 
I'll lay he has, too." 

"Then you're mistaken," said Tom firmly. "I 
was impressed; every fool knows that." 

"Oh, every fool knows it, do they?" was the sharp 
answer. " You ain't calling me a fool?" 

"Jest you put a stopper on yer tongue and belay," 
sang out the salt, seeing all the elements of a quarrel 
in this discussion, and noticing Tom's flushed cheeks, 
and the rising anger of Higgins. "'Sides, I ain't 
Jim to you, me lad, and don't you ferget it. I'll take 
a rope's end to you afore you're a minute older if 
you ain't careful." 

But Higgins had allowed his temper to rise to the 
point where it was uncontrollable. He had expected 
Tom to accept his remarks meekly, as became a new 
hand, and, finding he had not done so, was determined 



60 With Wellington in Spain 

to pick a quarrel with him. There are always such 
cantankerous individuals in the world, and it was 
Tom's fortune to hit up against this one. He, too, 
was roused, for he resented the man's impertinence. 

" I'll back as he's a jail bird," declared Higgins, 
thinking that by making a firm stand in this alter- 
cation he would stimulate his own popularity amongst 
the men. " He's a gent that's took the money out 
of the till and then been collared. The easiest way 
to cover the thing was to hand him over to a crimp. 
That's how he's here — I know him." 

He had probably never set eyes on our hero be- 
fore, and had he done so would not have dared to 
address him in such a manner. But Tom was one 
of the deck hands, one of themselves, and, moreover, 
a newly-joined recruit, too often destined for a time 
to be the butt of his fellows. Higgins counted on 
his giving way at once. Most recruits are awe- 
stricken at first by the strangeness of their surround- 
ings, and perhaps by the roughness of their com- 
panions. Besides, bullying airs and ways, backed 
most probably by other individuals, are apt to cause 
a young fellow to choose the easier path and swallow 
his displeasure. However, Tom was one of the 
obstinate sort. Fighting was nothing new to him, 
and to show his readiness for a contest, and the fact 
that he was by no means afraid of an encounter, he 
promptly began hostilities by pitching the contents 
of a jug of water over Higgins. 

" I'll ask you to understand that when I say a 



Aboard a British Frigate 61 

thing I mean it, and that I tell a lie for no one," he 
said, rising from his seat and undoing the necker- 
chief which he, like the others, wore about him. " I 
don't know what the rules are aboard a king's ship; 
but this I do know, I allow no man to suggest that 
I am a thief or a liar. Take back what you've said 
or I'll trounce you." 

There was a commotion in the 'tween decks by now. 
Men crowded about the long narrow tables stretching 
from the side of the ship towards the centre, and 
which was one of many. Like the rest, too, it 
was constructed to lift up to the deck above and be 
attached there, leaving the decks free for movement. 
Jim had meanwhile risen to his feet, and now held 
his hand high for silence. 

"Mates," he said, " there's trouble brewin' here. 
This new mate of ours is a good 'un, and I'll not 
allow him to be stamped on. Higgins here has 
just n^w called him a thief and a liar, and the young 
spark has drenched him with water. If Higgins don't 
come down handsome with a 'pology there's only one 
thing left." 

■" A set to, and right it'll be," burst in another of 
the men, one of the seniors. "Fightin' don't do no 
great harm, and it's necessary when one mate calls 
another names that tastes nasty. You, Higgins, ad- 
mit you called him a liar and a thief?" 

"Of course," came the coarse answer. " I'm goin' 
ter thrash him." 

"You are, are you?" came the grim reply from 



62 With Wellington in Spain 

the old salt, while he sized up the two young fellows 
swiftly, craning his head to one side as if he were 
a bird. "I dunno so much; the new mate looks 
as if he could use his hands lively. You ain't goin' 
to 'pologize?" 

"Not likely! I'll hammer him till he'll be glad 
to admit that what I've said's as true as gospel." 

If he imagined that Tom would keep him waiting 
he was much mistaken, for that young fellow had 
already rolled his sleeves to the elbow. Indeed, as 
we have intimated, he was no novice. Not that he 
was by nature quarrelsome; but those were rough 
days, and like many another boy Tom had need 
now and again to defend his honour. He stood 
away from the table, waiting while it and two or 
three next to it were swung out of the way. Then, 
bending low so that his head would not hit the deck 
above, he stepped to the centre of the circle which 
the men immediately formed. 

"Any sort of rules?" he asked coolly. "Anyone 
keepin' time?" 

"Go as you please, mate," came Jim's answer. 
"A sailor don't ax fer breathing time if he comes 
up alongside a Frenchie, and you don't have no 
call for it either. It's the same fer both, and as 
fair and square as may be. But it'll have to be 
straight work. We stops the fight if there's foul 
hitting." 

A fight in the 'tween decks was no unusual occur- 
rence in those days, and was a source of some in- 



Aboard a British Frigate 63 

terest to the men of the navy. Hard fellows without 
an exception, they had been brought up in a stern 
school which taught that a man must look to himself 
alone for protection. But they could recognize spirit, 
and Tom took their fancy wonderfully. 

"He's game, he is," declared one of the men, as 
he doubled his arms and pressed forward to watch 
the contest. "And he ain't no weakling. You can 
see as he's not used to haulin' and suchlike, and 
ain't been a tar over long. But I like his figure- 
head. It's clean and well-cut, and he's a beam on 
him that carries weight, and'll lend strength to a 
blow when he gets one home. He ain't no new 
'un at the game, I'll stake my Davy. That boy 
has been grappled on to a job like this many a 
time." 

The ten minutes which followed proved that Tom 
was something also of a scientist; for he played 
with his antagonist. It was clear, in fact, after five 
minutes that he would be the victor, though at first 
he had some ugly rushes to stop and some hard 
hitting to protect himself from. But science and 
generally good condition told, and while at the end 
of some ten minutes, during which the two broke 
away now and again to pant and glare at one another, 
only to begin once more at the shouts of the crew, 
Higgins was almost in a condition of exhaustion, 
Tom was still comparatively fresh. He stopped a 
furious and last attempt on the part of Higgins to 
rush him up against the side of the ship, and then, 



64 With Wellington in Spain 

darting forward, struck the man full in the mouth, 
sending him sprawling. 

Higgins lay for a minute without movement, and 
then his hand went back towards the knife which, 
sailor-like, he carried attached to his belt and well 
behind him. 

" Drop that!" shouted Jim. "Now, Higgins, you 
as was a-goin' ter whack this young shaver, say as 
you 'pologize for callin' him names. 

For a second there was defiance on what was still 
recognizable as that young man's face. Then he 
nodded his head in assent. Tom at once went to- 
wards him, his hand outstretched. 

11 Shake hands, and let's be friends," he said. " I 
dare say you didn't understand how I'd take what you 
said. But where I come from a man rights and fights 
again when another calls him thief or liar. There, 
shake hands and let's be friends in the future.' 1 

There was a cheer at that, while the men gathered 
round our hero, patting him on the back with such 
heartiness that his remaining breath was almost 
driven from his body. Some of the more enthusi- 
astic even began to chair him, and had carried him 
as far as the deck ladder, when the sudden shrill 
piping of whistles and the appearance of an officer 
put a stop to the movement. It was Mr. Riley, a 
long glass beneath one arm, his other hand on the 
rail of the ladder. 

" My lads," he began, about to give an order, 
and then, suddenly catching sight of Tom, ceased 



Aboard a British Frigate 65 

abruptly. Casting his eye over the heads of the 
men, he soon picked out the somewhat miserable 
figure of Higgins. 

"Ah," he said, "a fight! My lads, strictly against 
orders. But I've news for you — we've rounded up a 
Frenchman. Clear these decks." 

He was gone in a twinkling, his coat tails swinging 
behind him. But as he turned he contrived to smile 
at our hero. 

"Licked that young man Higgins. That's good," 
he was saying as he raced up the ladder. "Young 
Clifford has courage. Wonder how he'll behave 
when shot and cannon balls come crashing amongst 
us; he's just the boy for this service." 

When Tom had washed his face and had clambered 
to the deck he saw a large vessel some four miles 
away, bearing up towards the frigate, while a smaller 
one sailed behind her. 

"Ship o' the line, mate," said Jim, who was leader 
of the squad of men of whom our hero was one, who 
had the working of one gun. "It'll be tough busi- 
ness, and ef she wasn't so big I doubt as she'd sail 
up so cocky towards us. But we'll give her what 
for; we're fair death on Frenchies." 

A magnificent sight the Frenchman made as the 
distance between the two vessels decreased. Tom 
peeped at her through the wide-open port and ad- 
mired the enormous spread of white above her, the 
seething foam at her forefoot, and the gleam of her 
broad decks that came into view now and again 

( C 570 ) 5 



66 With Wellington in Spain 

as the ship heaved to the swell of the ocean. Then 
a spout of white smoke burst from her fo'castle; a 
flash severed it in twain and was followed after a 
distinct interval by a dull reverberating report. The 
shot reached its mark almost at the same moment. 
There was a crash within ten feet of Tom. The side 
of the vessel at that point burst inward in a hundred 
splinters, and the iron messenger struck the very next 
gun to his, slithered and crashed across the 'tween 
decks, and finally brought up short against the op- 
posite side. It roused a cheer of excitement from 
the crew. 

" That's shootin'!" cried Jim. " She's the sort for 
our money. In a jiffy we'll be layin' into her. Just 
take a sight along the gun, Tom, and larn now how 
to pitch a ball into a Frenchie." 



CHAPTER IV 

A Naval Encounter 

In the ordinary way the immediate prospect of an 
encounter at sea might be expected to rouse qualms 
in the breast of a novice, and we cannot affirm that 
Tom would have been any exception to the rule on 
this his first meeting aboard an English frigate with 
a French man-of-war. But there was so much else 
to attract his attention. Even in those days the 
wooden walls of our stout ships contained sufficient 
to interest even a dullard, and to a lad of active 
brain, as was our hero, there were things to watch 
and marvel at, while the men themselves grouped 
in the 'tween decks were quite a study. They stood 
about their guns stripped to the waist, joking and 
merry, the master of each gun with his eye on the 
sights. Close at hand a lad sat on a long narrow 
tub filled to the brim with powder. 

" Powder monkeys we call 'em," said Jim in a 
hoarse whisper. " The young villains! They're 
always up to some sort o' mischief, and when it 
comes to fighting, blest if they wouldn't take on 
the whole of Boney's fleet alone. They ain't the 
lads to squeak. If we fetch up alongside the French- 



68 With Wellington in Spain 

man, and there's a call for boarding parties, them 
imps is amongst the first to answer." 

" Stand ready!" the order came at this moment, 
and turning his head Tom caught a glimpse of Mr. 
Riley, still with a long glass beneath his arm, his 
sword belted to his side, and his shapely form bent 
so as to allow him to peer through one of the ports. 
" Stand ready, men," he shouted. "Gun layers 
train your sights on the enemy and aim low. Be- 
tween wind and water is the mark, lads!" 

The crew of the guns answered him with a cheer, 
and for a while gun layers stretched over the weapons 
they commanded, sighting for the enemy. Tom 
watched as Jim squinted along the sights, and then 
peered out at the French ship of the line. She was 
bowling along before a fresh breeze, heeling well 
over, so that half her deck showed. He could see 
a mass of men on it, and others running to and fro, 
while quite a number were clambering into the rigging. 

" Shows she means to come right up close," said 
Jim in his gruff way. " That'll suit us nicely. 
Hammer and tongs is the best sort of fighting for 
us boys, and we don't get it too often. She's going 
to run right in and when there's a broadside it'll 
be a close one, and thunder won't be in it." 

"Stand by to fire!" was heard through the 'tween 
decks, while an instant later there came a roar from 
the deck above, a trembling and shaking of the whole 
vessel which all could feel, and then the rumble of 
wheels as the guns were run in, sponged out and 



A Naval Encounter 69 

reloaded. By now the enemy had disappeared from 
sight behind a huge cloud of smoke, which, however, 
was whisked away swiftly by the breeze. It was a 
minute later, perhaps, when the French battleship 
was again visible, that Mr. Riley gave the order to 
fire, and Tom was witness of the result for the first 
time in his life. Jim touched the vent of the gun 
with his portfire, and instantly a squirt of flame and 
smoke shot upward. There was a huge commotion 
in the gun itself. Though braced into position by 
numerous cables it started backward, drawing them 
as tight as iron bars, while the wheels thudded heavily 
on their runners. The commotion was accompanied 
by that of every other gun on that deck in the broad- 
side, while the ship herself shook from end to end. 
The roar of the discharge was indescribable, and 
deafened him, while the 'tween decks was instantly 
filled with volumes of sulphurous smoke. 

" Slack off! Haul her back, boys!" came in sten- 
torian notes from Jim. " Run her in quick. Now 
with the sponge rods, and we'll have a second charge 
into her before the smoke's cleared." 

Five minutes later Mr. Riley's voice was heard. 
"Stand by for another broadside," he bellowed. 
"Double shot your guns next time — ah!" 

The frigate quivered from end to end; she seemed to 
have been struck by a cyclone. An iron hail beat on 
her sides, bursting them in in many directions, while 
splinters of iron and wood flew across the 'tween 
decks, striking men down in many directions. In 



70 With Wellington in Spain 

one brief second the orderliness of the place was trans- 
formed to the most utter disorder, as the enemy had 
answered the frigate's broadside with one of her own. 
Tom looked about him wonderingly, dazed by the 
commotion and astounded at what he saw. For by 
now the wind blowing in at the open ports had cleared 
all the smoke away, and he could see all that was 
happening in the 'tween decks. There lay the gun 
on his right a wreck, turned on its side, its muzzle 
crushed out of sight, two of its wheels broken and 
half- buried in the deck. What had before been a 
square porthole was now an irregular, torn opening, 
through which a vast expanse of sea could be watched. 
But it was the poor wretches who had manned the 
gun who claimed his greatest attention. Five of them 
lay mangled upon the deck, with pools of blood ac- 
cumulating about them and draining off towards the 
scuppers in trickles and streams. On the port side, 
opposite where the gun had stood, three men had 
been struck by the missile, and lay silent and motion- 
less. Elsewhere there were rents in the side of the 
frigate, and men lay about in all postures, some 
moaning, others silent, nursing a wounded arm or 
leg. This was war; this was the treatment meted 
out by one nation to another. 

But of loss of discipline there was none. If the 
'tween decks was in disorder there was order amongst 
the men, and no flinching. Already the surgeon's 
mates and helpers were carrying the wounded away 
towards the ladder leading to the cockpit, while at 



A Naval Encounter 71 

every gun stood its crew, immovable and ready, 
waiting the word of the officer. As for the enemy, 
the shapely lines of the French man-of-war had 
changed wonderfully, for she was so near now that 
one could see distinctly. The white deck, still 
careened towards the frigate, was seamed and scarred 
and torn. One mast lay over her rail, the sails 
towing in the water, and her sides were marked by 
shot holes, two of her ports having been converted into 
one by an enormous rent that extended between them. 

A dull cheer resounded through the frigate; the 
men in the 'tween decks took it up lustily, and then 
came again that commotion above. The vessel shiv- 
ered, shot and flame and smoke belched from the ports 
on the upper deck, the roar being followed once again 
by the rumble of gun wheels on their metal runners. 

"Fire!" Mr. Riley stood halfway up the ladder 
leading to the upper deck and waved his cocked hat 
at the crews under his own command. Crash ! went 
the broadside. Tom watched the powder at the vent 
squirt upward in flame and smoke as on a previous 
occasion, and then sprang to the cables as Jim's 
husky voice called to his own crew to draw the gun 
in and reload. 

" Double shot; don't forget," bellowed Mr. Riley, 
and obedient to the order the loaders thrust first one 
and then a second huge iron ball into the gaping 
muzzles. In the middle of the operation there came 
a resounding discharge from the enemy, while huge 
columns of smoke hid her sides. But the shot failed 



72 With Wellington in Spain 

to strike the frigate, for a few seconds earlier the com- 
mander had put his helm up and had sheered off 
towards the Frenchman. It was a clever manoeuvre, 
and made a wonderful difference to the fight in pro- 
gress. For the enemy had received four successive 
broadsides now, and had returned only one effective 
one, and that not so effective as it might have been 
had the ships been nearer. Added to that, it was 
less than five minutes later when the gunners on the 
port side got their sights aligned on the enemy, and 
a simultaneous broadside was delivered by the guns 
of the upper and 'tween decks. Then the commander 
swung his helm again and made across the stern of 
the Frenchman. 

" Stand ready," sang out Mr. Riley again, his 
eyes glued upon the man-of-war. "Layers concen- 
trate on the stern. In one minute, men; in one 
minute we shall be there. Now! Fire!" 

Running round in a circle after crossing in the 
wake of the Frenchman, the frigate had gone about 
after emptying her complete port broadside, and had 
then swept round in rear of the enemy. It was a 
manoeuvre which, if not quickly carried out, might 
have ended in disaster. But nothing occurred to 
disturb it, while the Frenchman, impeded by his 
broken mast and the sail dragging in the water — and 
slowed considerably thereby — was unable to counter 
the movement by swinging also. It followed, there- 
fore, that the frigate had an enormous advantage, 
and, making the most of this, crossed and recrossed 




; ' crash! went the broadside" 



A Naval Encounter 73 

the rear of the enemy, emptying first the starboard 
broadside and then every gun on the port side. As 
for the French battleship, her guns were useless. 
Not one of her broadsides could be brought to bear, 
and though she sheered off to the south a little, the 
commander was at once able to alter his own position 
correspondingly. 

11 It's a victory," said Jim, with elation. " The man 
that laid the gun that brought down that mast deserves 
to be made an admiral this minute. It's saved lives 
aboard this ship, boys. It's won the battle." 

" Shall we board her now?" asked Tom, who was 
densely ignorant of naval matters. 

" Board her! Not us!" cried Jim. " Where's the 
use? She carries two or three men to every man jack 
of us, and would have all the chances if we boarded, 
not that I say as we wouldn't do the business. But 
we've the best of it like this. She's cut that mast 
adrift, but it'll be hours before she can refit, and 
meanwhile we've the legs of her. We've only to 
keep here, astern, plugging shot into her all the while, 
and she's bound to give in before long. Of course 
she can't do that yet awhile. That wouldn't be fight- 
ing, and I'm bound to say that the Frenchies are 
good at the game, almost as good as we are. She'll 
hold on and endeavour to best us; but she'll have 
to haul down her colours before very long. Ah! 
What'd I say? Look at 'em!" 

The flag of France flying aloft on the enemy was 
seen to flutter. It dropped a foot or two and then 



74 With Wellington in Spain 

came down with a run. Instantly a hoarse bellow 
resounded through the frigate. Men gripped hands 
and cheered, the shouts coming from every deck. 
Even the wounded, who had not all been removed, 
sat up with an effort and cheered as best they could. 

" Silence, men," came from Mr. Riley at this mo- 
ment, and turning they saw him standing halfway up 
the ladder, bent so that the men could see his face. 
" Stand to your guns all the while; don't draw charges 
till you get the order. Jim there, from No. 4 gun, send 
me four of your men to join the boarding party." 

Tom noticed that the officer had been wounded, for 
he carried one arm in a sling, and there were stains 
of blood on his breeches. He was wondering how 
he had come by the wound, when Jim struck him 
heavily on the back. 

" Avast dreamin' there, me hearty," he shouted 
hoarsely, still elated at what had happened. " Get 
off to the officer and go aboard the ship. You'll 
see something to interest you." 

Tom wanted no more coaxing; he dropped the 
cable on which he had been hauling and went at a 
run towards the ladder, followed by the other men. 
They kept close on the heels of Mr. Riley, and in a 
twinkling were on the main deck. There the com- 
mander was now stationed, and about him a group 
of officers and men. 

"Ah, there you are, Mr. Riley!" he exclaimed. 
"We'll go aboard in the cutter, taking three men 
from each deck. Step in, my lads." 



A Naval Encounter 75 

Tom scrambled into the boat with the crew, and 
watched as it was lowered away. He was filled with 
amazement, first that a boat of such proportions as the 
cutter could support so many men when hung to her 
davits, and then that she could be safely lowered with 
such a load to the water. Meanwhile he noticed the 
high sides of the frigate, the officer up on the quarter- 
deck, and the men of the watch away aloft in the 
rigging. The frigate lay inert, her sails flapping, 
while, almost a quarter of a mile away now, the French 
ship lay in the water, slowly heaving up and down, 
with a peculiar and significant twist in one of her masts. 

" Struck by our broadsides as we passed and re- 
passed," Mr. Riley told him as they were lowered 
away, for the officer happened to be close to our hero. 
"She had bad luck. It's rare that one brings down 
a mast at the first discharge, and that of course proved 
her undoing; the loss of the second makes her use- 
less for fighting purposes. This has been a gallant 
action and will give us no end of credit. Ah, there 
goes a recall gun!" 

A spout of flame and smoke belched from the frigate 
a little above the heads of the men in the cutter, for 
the latter had now reached the water, and turning his 
head Tom watched the ball discharged strike the sea 
some two hundred yards ahead of the small sloop 
that had been sailing in company of the battleship, 
and which had now changed her course. 

" She'll not disobey the order," reflected Mr. Riley. 
" Once we are aboard the enemy the frigate could 



76 With Wellington in Spain 

sink that vessel within ten minutes. There go her 
sails aback; she'll swing round and come in like a 
docile dog. Now, lad, clamber aboard when we 
reach the ship; you come as one of my escort." 

" You're wounded, sir," said Tom. " Let me 
fasten that sling for you again ; it's too long, and 
doesn't support the arm." 

He undid the knot with the help of fingers and 
teeth and then rearranged the sling. By the time 
he had finished they were under the counter of the 
French battleship, to which a man at the stern and 
bows of the cutter clung with a boathook. At once 
a midshipman sprang at a dangling rope ladder and 
went swarming up with the agility of a monkey, two 
of the crew following. Tom picked up a coil of rope 
and without a question made a noose fast round the 
waist of the officer who had already befriended him. 

"I'll get aboard and help to haul you up, sir," he 
said. ''You'd never manage to clamber up that 
ladder with one arm wounded." 

He waited for no orders, but, springing at the ladder, 
went scrambling up, the end of the rope secured be- 
tween his teeth. A minute later Mr. Riley was being 
hoisted to the deck of the French battleship. Then 
the commander followed, and after him more of the 
crew, with two officers. 

Tom found himself looking down upon a scene 
which was almost indescribable ; for the ship had been 
cruelly mauled by the broadsides of the frigate. There 
were a dozen holes in her deck, where shot had pene- 



A Naval Encounter 77 

trated, while in many places the rails were driven in. 
A dismounted gun lay in one of the scuppers, with 
part of her crew crushed beneath it; and from end 
to end of the ship there were signs of the awful havoc 
the iron tempest had created. Men lay in all directions 
and in all postures. The damaged mast swung by 
the starboard halyards and threatened to fall inboard 
at any moment, while a huge stretch of crumpled and 
shot -holed canvas covered one portion of the deck. 
To add to the scene of ruin, smoke and flames were 
belching from a hatch towards the stern of the quarter- 
deck, and some fifty sailors were endeavouring to 
quench the conflagration with water cast from buckets. 
Almost opposite the spot where the ladder dangled, 
and where the victors had come aboard, was a group 
of officers, and in their centre one seated on a chair, 
pallid to the lips and obviously wounded. The com- 
mander went towards him instantly and took him by 
the hand. 

" You are hurt?" he asked. " You have fought 
your ship gallantly, but fortune was against you. Go 
to your quarters, please. I will take no sword from 
an officer of such courage." 

He put aside the sword that was offered him so 
feebly, and signed to men of his crew to lift the 
injured officer. Then he shook hands with the other 
Frenchmen present, many of whom shed tears as they 
replaced their swords in their scabbards. 

"Ah, monsieur," said one, who seemed to be the 
second in command, "ft was the fortune of war, but 



78 With Wellington in Spain 

bad fortune for us. With that mast shot away we 
were helpless, and then your broadsides poured into 
our stern tore the lengths of the decks, and did 
terrible damage. Our poor fellows were shot down 
in heaps. War, monsieur, is a terror." 

None could fail to admit that who visited the 
French ship, for what had been a well-found, trim 
vessel was now a shambles. It turned Tom sick and 
faint when he looked about him, so that he was forced 
to cling to the rail. But a moment later, when Mr. 
Riley called him, he was able to pull himself together. 

" We're to go aboard the sloop and see what she 
is," he called. " Help to lower me into the cutter." 

Half an hour later Tom clambered up the side of 
the smaller vessel, and hauled his officer up after him. 
They found a French midshipman in command of 
a crew of five, while beneath the hatches there were 
three prisoners. 

" Release them," Mr. Riley ordered; and, taking 
a couple of the French crew with him, Tom saw the 
hatch lifted, and called to the men below to come up. 
The smart uniform of an officer showed through the 
square hatch at once, and in a moment or two a 
youth stood on the deck before him, whom one would 
have said was British to the backbone. 

"Ensign Jack Barwood, 6oth Rifles, sir," he re- 
ported, drawing himself up in front of Mr. Riley and 
saluting. "Going out to join my regiment, this 
little sloop in which I had taken passage was held up 
by a French man-of-war. Our men were taken off, 



A Naval Encounter 79 

that is, the crew. I and two of my own men were 
left here as prisoners. We heard heavy firing, and 
guessed there was an action. What has happened?" 

Mr. Riley turned and pointed at the French prize 
won by the frigate. "We beat her," he said, with 
pride in his tones. " You've had luck to escape so 
early from a French prison. Where were you bound 
for?" 

" In the first place, Oporto," came the answer. 
i i Later, as a prisoner, for Bayonne. Now, I sup- 
pose, we shall have to return to England?" 

As it turned out, however, it was to Oporto that the 
little sloop made. 

"The frigate makes for home at once," Mr. Riley 
reported, when he had rowed back to the ship, and 
had again come out to the sloop. "She sails in 
company with her prize, and no doubt the home- 
coming will be a fine triumph. I have orders to take 
this sloop to Oporto, there to hand over this young 
fellow to the authorities." 

He pointed to Tom and smiled, while the ensign, 
turning upon our hero, surveyed him with amaze- 
ment, and with some amount of superciliousness if 
the truth be told. 

" Pardon, sir," he said, " I don't understand." 

"Of course not," came the smiling answer; "nor 
does he. Come here, Tom." 

Our hero, as may be imagined, was just as dumb- 
founded as the ensign ; for though Mr. Riley had been 
wonderfully kind to him from the beginning, his 



80 With Wellington in Spain 

manner had suddenly changed. He addressed him 
as if he were an equal, not as if he were one of the 
crew. 

"I'll explain," he smiled, seeing the bewilderment 
expressed by both young fellows. " While the action 
was passing between us and the man-of-war our look- 
outs reported a sail in the offing. She has come up 
to us since, and turns out to be a smaller frigate than 
ourselves. But the point is this — she left the Thames 
after us, and has carried a brisk breeze with her all 
the way. She asked at once for information concern- 
ing a young fellow brought aboard just before we 
weighed, who had been impressed by a gang having 
quarters near London Bridge. That, sir, is the young 
fellow." 

He pointed at Tom, whom the ensign still regarded 
in amazement. 

4 'The whole thing has been cleared up, of course, 
said Mr. Riley. " There is no longer any doubt that 
this gentleman is the son of Mr. Septimus John Clif- 
ford, wine merchant, of London Bridge." 

"Eh?" suddenly interjected the ensign, staring 
hard at Tom. "Clifford, of London Bridge. Well, 
I'm bothered! Why, Tom, don't you know me?" 

It must be confessed that our hero was somewhat 
taken aback. In this young officer so much above 
himself, clad in the handsome uniform of the 6oth 
Rifles, he had not recognized an old friend. Indeed 
his attention had been centred on his own officer. 
But now, when Jack Barwood lifted his cap, Tom 



A Naval Encounter 81 

recognized him at once, and gave vent to a shout 
of delight. 

"Why, it's you!" he cried, gripping the hand 
extended. " Haven't seen you since — now when did 
we meet last?" 

"Time you licked that cub of a grocer's boy," 
laughed Jack, who seemed to be just such another as 
our hero, and who was evidently a jovial fellow. u He 
passed when we were with your cousin, and grinned 
and sauced you. You were at him in a jiffy." 

Mr. Riley laughed loudly when he heard what was 
passing. " Why, he's been at one of our men aboard 
the frigate," he cried. " Hammered him badly just 
before we fell in with the Frenchman. He's a tiger." 

"He's a demon to fight, is Tom, sir," laughed 
Jack. "Ask him how we became acquainted." 

" Eh? How?" asked the officer curiously, and then 
pressed the question when he saw that Tom had gone 
a crimson colour and was looking sheepish. "Eh?" 
he repeated. 

" He's pretending to have forgotten," shouted Jack, 
enjoying the situation. "I'll tell the tale. It was 
at school one day. Tom was chewing toffee, mine 
had disappeared from a pocket. I tackled him with the 
theft, and we went hammer and tongs for one another. 
It was a busy time for us for some ten minutes." 

"Ah!" smiled Mr. Riley. "Who won?" 

" Drawn battle," exclaimed Tom, somewhat sulkily. 

"I had a licking," laughed Jack. " It was a cer- 
tainty for him from the beginning." 

(0 570) 6 



82 With Wellington in Spain 

" Not surprised," came from the officer. k< And the 
toffee?" 

" Eh?" asked Jack. 

"The toffee you accused him of stealing?" asked 
Mr. Riley. "You found it later?" 

"In another pocket — yes," admitted Jack, with a 
delightful grin. "I deserved that hiding; it made 
us fast friends. So Tom's been impressed." 

" By the machinations of his cousin." 

That caused Tom to lift his head and come nearer. 
He had wondered time and again how that impress- 
ment had been brought about, whether by accident 
or design, and had never been able to bring himself 
to believe that Jose was responsible. Mr. Riley's 
words made him open his ears. 

" You are sure, sir?" he asked. 

"The commander has letters from your father with 
positive proof. However, things seemed to have 
happened fortunately. You are to be taken to Oporto 
after all, and here you meet with an old friend. 
Things couldn't have been better. Now I shall leave 
you both aboard while I go to get together a crew. 
We'll set a course for Oporto when I return, and 
ought to reach the place inside the week. Tom, 
you'll no longer be a sailor before the mast. I have 
the commander's orders to take you as a passenger, 
or, if you wish it, to appoint you an officer for the 
time being. How's that?" 

It was all delightful hearing; and when at length 
the sloop turned her bows for Oporto, leaving the 



A Naval Encounter 83 

frigate to sail away with her prize, and incidentally to 
carry Tom's letter to his father in England, the party 
aboard the little vessel could not have been merrier. 

" You'll have to turn soldier yet," declared Jack to 
our hero, standing so that the latter could inspect his 
uniform, and indeed the young fellow cut such a neat 
figure that Tom was even more tempted than formerly. 
For Jack was slimmer and shorter than he, while the 
few months of training he had experienced had taught 
him to hold himself erect. A jollier and more care- 
less ensign never existed. It can be said with truth 
that, had the fortunes of the troops in the Peninsula 
depended on Jack's wisdom and military knowledge, 
disaster would promptly have overtaken our arms. 
He was just one of those jolly, inconsequential sort 
of fellows, always skylarking, always gay and laugh- 
ing, who go through the world as if serious subjects 
were not in existence. 

" Hooray for the life of a soldier!" he shouted, 
knowing Tom's ardent wishes that way, and anxious 
to fill him with envy. " Who'd ever sit on a stool 
and sweat over books in an office?" 

"I'll lick you if you don't stop short," growled 
Tom sourly, and yet laughing for all that; for who 
could take Jack seriously? "Who knows, I may be 
a leader of troops before you have cut your wisdom 
teeth? Who knows?" 

Who could guess the future indeed? Not Tom. 
Not the jovial, thoughtless Jack. Not even the wise 
Mr. Riley, with all his experience of the sea and of the 



84 With Wellington in Spain 

men who go upon it. It seemed that Oporto would 
receive them in the course of a few days, and that 
Jack and Tom would there part. But within twenty- 
four hours of that conversation the scene was changed. 
Two vessels raised their peaks from the offing, and, 
sailing nearer, declared themselves as French. They 
overhauled the little sloop, in spite of a spread of 
canvas that threatened to press her beneath the 
water. And that evening Tom and his companions 
were prisoners. 

"My uncle! What awful luck!" groaned Jack, in 
the depths of despair, as is often the case with high- 
mettled people when reverses come along. "No 
soldiering, Tom ; no office for you. I'd prefer that 
to a prison." 

" It's the fortune of war," exclaimed Mr. Riley with 
resignation. " For me it makes no great difference. 
The wound I received aboard the frigate has not im- 
proved, and, even if I become a prisoner, I shall re- 
ceive proper treatment, which is impossible aboard 
this sloop. I'm sorry for you two young fellows." 

" Pooh, sir," smiled Tom, " we'll give 'em the 
slip! Seems to me I'm not meant for Oporto yet 
awhile. We'll give 'em the slip, and then I'll take 
on as a soldier." 

"Slip? How?" asked Jack, somewhat staggered, 
for the idea had not occurred to him. 

"Depends; couldn't say now how we'll bring it 
about. But we'll manage it some way. I speak 
Spanish and Portuguese and a little French. If with 



A Naval Encounter 85 

those advantages we can't manage the business, well, 
we're only fit for a prison. 

f 1 Hooray!" shouted the excited Jack; whereat one 
of the French officers accosted them angrily. But 
Tom quickly appeased him. 

" Where do we get landed, Monsieur le Lieu- 
tenant!" he asked politely. 

" Ah, you speak our tongue! That is good," came 
the more pleasant answer. " But where you land I 
cannot say; you will be sent with troops to the north 
of Spain, and so to a prison." 

It was not very cheering news, but Tom made the 
best of it. 

" I don't put my nose into a French prison if I can 
help it!" he declared, in that particular tone of voice 
to which Jack had grown accustomed when they were 
chums at school. 

"And he won't!" declared the latter. "I know 
Tom well — a pig-headed, stubborn beggar from his 
cradle. Tom'll give 'em the slip, and we with him. 
One thing seems all right in the meanwhile — there's 
grub and drink in plenty. I never could stand starva- 
tion; I'd rather go to prison." 

But whatever thoughts they may have had as re- 
gards escaping were set aside when they landed. 
Putting in at an obscure port, Tom and his friends 
found a squadron of horsemen waiting to receive 
them, for the ship had flown signals. The three 
friends, together with the two men belonging to 
Jack's regiment, were given horses, while a trooper 



86 With Wellington in Spain 

took their reins, two other men riding close to each 
one of them. And then they set off across a barren 
country, which, however fair it may have been in 
other days, was burned black, stripped of all eat- 
ables, while those villages which had not been swal- 
lowed by the flames were wrecked and useless. 

" You will be careful not to attempt an escape," said 
the officer in command of the squadron, speaking to 
Tom, the only one of the prisoners who could under- 
stand him. " I have given orders for the troopers to 
shoot at the first attempt. We ride now to join our 
main army, and through a country inhabited by people 
who would flay us alive if they could catch us. Let 
that alone warn you not to attempt escape. The Portu- 
guese peasants are more dangerous than my soldiers." 

He shouted to the head of the column, set his own 
horse in motion, and led the way at a pace that 
threatened to be trying. It was obvious, in fact, that 
he was anxious to reach the summit of the hills near 
at hand, and not to be found in the open when night 
fell. As for Tom and his friends, the outlook seemed 
hopeless; an attempt at escape meant a bullet from 
their guard. And, even were they successful, they 
were in a country where bands of peasants scoured 
the valleys murdering all who were too weak to oppose 
them. It looked indeed as if a French prison would 
shortly shelter them, and as if there Jack's military 
career would come to a halt before it had actually 
begun, while Tom's ambitions in that direction w T ould 
be cut in twain and end only in bitter disappointment. 



CHAPTER V 

Prisoners 

If ever a band of prisoners could be described as 
jovial it was the little band with whom Tom Clifford 
was travelling. For the confinement at sea made a 
trip ashore most enchanting; then the quick and 
unaccustomed movement, the efforts more than one 
of them were forced to make continually to keep in 
their saddles, provoked an amount of amusement 
which even infected their escort. 

" I was as near off as anything that time," shouted 
the irrepressible Jack, when his horse had shied at 
a rock and nearly thrown him. " Wish one of these 
fellows would rope me to the saddle instead of leading 
me as if I were a child." 

" What does he say, monsieur?" asked the trooper 
riding near our hero, and at once Tom explained. 

"That would not be good for him," laughed the 
man. "If we have to gallop at any time, and the 
horse fell, he would be left to be butchered. I tell 
you, monsieur, these peasants are terrible. I do not 
say that they are not justified, for our men have be- 
haved cruelly to them. But the peasants care no- 
thing whether it be horse soldiers or foot. If a man 

87 



88 With Wellington in Spain 

of ours falls into their hands he is butchered; that 
would be your fate also if you were to lag behind." 

Every now and again, as the small party made for 
the hills, groups of men were seen hovering in the 
distance. And once, when the squadron was riding 
through a narrow defile, rocks descended from above. 

" Gallop!" commanded the officer, and striking 
their heels into the flanks of the horses the soldiers 
soon passed through. When the dusk of evening 
began to fall, shots rang out in the distance, and 
one of the troopers was wounded. 

"I see men gathering in front of us," suddenly 
exclaimed one of the sergeants. "They fill the gap 
through which we must pass to gain the road for the 
hill." 

"Halt!" came from the commander. "Place the 
prisoners in the centre. We will ride forward steadily 
till within shot of them, and then we will charge. 
There is nothing else to be done. To retreat 
would be to have the whole population of the 
country about us to-morrow; monsieur," he said, as 
if by an afterthought; "you and your comrades 
realize the danger?" 

Tom nodded at once. "We see the position, 
Monsieur le Capitaine" he said. "You are a de- 
tached party away from the army." 

"We are one of hundreds of squadrons told off 
to clear the country during the retreat of our armies 
across the Tagus," came the answer. " From to-day 
we march for Spain, and I hope we may never put 



Prisoners 89 

foot in Portugal again. It is not a pleasant duty, 
this burning of villages and crops, but orders must 
be obeyed. We are detached, as you say, and to 
join our friends we have to run the gauntlet. Mon- 
sieur and his friends can have temporary liberty, and 
arms with which to fight, if they will give their word 
of honour to respect me and my men, and hand 
themselves over later on as captives to us." 

"I will speak with my friends," replied Tom at 
once, overjoyed at the proposal; for he could see 
easily that there was a strenuous time before the 
little party, and in the event of a reverse to the 
troopers the position of himself and his friends 
might be very serious. Armed and ready they would 
be in a different position. Rapidly, therefore, he 
explained the position to Mr. Riley. 

" Agreed!" cried the latter eagerly. "Not that 
I'm much use either way. It takes me all my time 
to stick to this animal, let alone use a weapon; for 
I have only one useful arm. Tell him we agree. 
You men," — and he swung round on Andrews and 
Howeley, the two men of the 6oth accompanying 
them, "you men understand the position, no doubt. 
We are fighting for the Portuguese, and against the 
French; but here is a case where our friends will 
not know us. They will kill us with the others 
before we can explain. It is a question of self- 
preservation." 

" Right, sir," answered Andrews cheerily. " We're 
game, and though it'll be hard luck to have to be- 



90 With Wellington in Spain 

come prisoners again, we see the reason. We give 
our word." 

' ' Good, then," exclaimed the officer of the party 
with relief, and at once gave orders to his troopers to 
throw off the leading reins, and to hand each of the 
prisoners a sabre. To Mr. Riley he presented a pistol. 

"For you, monsieur," he bowed. "If there is 
need, you will know how to use it. Now, men," he 
commanded, "we will ride forward in column of 
files, and when I shout, spread out into line. A 
charge should carry us through them. Gallop right 
through the village and up the road. Forward!" 

Nowhere, perhaps, were there finer troopers to be 
found than those in the French army invading the 
Peninsula. Napoleon had, in fact, swamped the 
country with divisions of magnificent cavalry, with 
numerous veterans in the ranks, and under leaders 
skilled in cavalry work who had taken their squadrons 
into action many and many a time, and had won 
victories. The preceding years of this eventful cam- 
paign in the Peninsula had seen detached parties of 
French horsemen penetrating far into country held 
by Wellington's troops, or by Spanish or Portuguese 
irregulars; and while the former had taught them 
many a lesson, and had, indeed, shown the French 
troops that if they were brave, the lads from England 
were equal to them, there is little doubt that, just 
as Wellington and our armies had learned to despise 
the Portuguese irregulars, and those of Spain in 
particular, the French held them even more in con- 



Prisoners 91 

tempt. It was the detached bands of guerrillas, 
however, that did them the greatest injury. No 
wandering party of horsemen could bivouac without 
fear of having sentries and outposts murdered in the 
night. Sudden and ferocious attacks were frequent, 
and at this time, when the French were retreating 
before our armies, and when without shadow of 
doubt they had treated the Portuguese peasantry and 
townspeople with horrible cruelty, a detached squad- 
ron such as the one Tom accompanied was liable to 
annihilation unless handled with great skill. How- 
ever, this squadron in particular and its officer seemed 
to make light of the difficulties before them. They 
were accustomed to the hatred of the peasants, accus- 
tomed also to see them take to their heels when they 
charged, and disappear in their mountains. It was, 
therefore, with a cheer, in which Tom and his friends 
joined, that they jogged forward in column of file, 
their sabres drawn and ready, their leader a horse's 
length in advance of them. 

Tom rose in his stirrups and surveyed the enemy. 
Even through the gloom he could see that there must 
be two hundred at least gathered at the entrance of 
the village through which the squadron must pass 
to reach the road to the heights. Shots came from 
the mass every now and again, while there were red 
flashes from the buildings. Shrill cries of rage and 
hate reached his ears, and amongst the voices he 
could distinguish those of women. 

" Phit! Phit! Bullets whizzed overhead, while the 



92 With Wellington in Spain 

trooper next to him suddenly gave vent to a growl 
of anger. 

" Struck me in the arm, monsieur," he said, after 
a few moments. "I would rather far receive a 
wound in proper battle than from these wolves. But 
you will see; they will scatter as we charge. We 
shall cut down a few of the laggards, burn the 
village, and thus light our way to the mountains. 
Poof! The Portuguese are brutes, the Spaniards are 
gentlemen beside them. ,, 

That was the way in which the French looked at 
the nations in the Peninsula. Truth compels us to 
admit that they had reason for liking the Spaniards; 
for not only were they able to play with them as if 
they were children, utterly despising them as soldiers, 
but also they obtained real help from them in their 
campaign, and though England had sent troops to 
repel the invader, and to help the Spaniards as well 
as the Portuguese to rid their country of oppression, 
yet throughout the campaign the Spaniards in parti- 
cular foiled the wishes of Wellington and his generals 
in every direction. They withheld supplies even from 
the wounded. They parted with nothing save at an 
exorbitant price, and always there were traitors 
amongst them ready to disclose our plans to the 
enemy. The Portuguese, too, were not guiltless in 
this matter; but, on the whole, their irregulars did 
some excellent work, and they at least made an 
attempt to help the British to drive Napoleon and 
his armies out of the Peninsula. 



Prisoners 93 

" Canter!" the command rang out loudly as a wide 
splash of flame came from the peasants, while bullets 
clipped the air, sang shrilly overhead, and sometimes 
hit horses or accoutrements. Tom heard a sharp 
metallic sound, and lost a stirrup, shot away by one 
of these bullets; but he managed to secure it again, 
though he was no great horseman. 

" Form line on the left!" The command rang out, 
while answering howls and shouts came from the 
village. " Charge!" 

Tom could see the commander standing in his 
stirrups, his sword raised overhead, his face turned 
towards his men. And that exhilarating shout, the 
excitement in the air, the bullets and the cries, sent 
his blood surging through him. Let us remember 
that Tom was young, and possessed of excellent 
health and spirits, also that soldiering was no new 
ambition with him. Fear for the future he had none, 
but all the while he was wondering how the matter 
would progress, and what would happen supposing 
the villagers held their ground and refused to be 
driven from the village. The hammer of the horses' 
hoofs, the jingle of bits and stirrups, and the sharp 
reports of muskets sent a thrill through his frame 
from head to foot, and in a moment he was leaning 
forward like the troopers, his sabre down over his 
knee, all eagerness to reach the enemy. Nor was it 
long before the squadron got to striking distance. 
The peasants held their ground till the horses were 
fifty paces away, and then raced into the houses. A 



94 With Wellington in Spain 

storm of bullets came from windows and doorways, 
and then, of a sudden, there was a clatter in front, 
and the commander of the squadron disappeared from 
view entirely. By then Tom was within ten paces 
of him; for the formation had brought him to the 
very centre. 

"Halt!" he bellowed, seeing what had happened. 
"The road is blocked. The peasants have dug a 
huge ditch, and the commander has gone into it. 
Here — hold my horse!" 

He flung the reins to a trooper riding at his knee, 
and slid to the ground. A moment later he was 
down in the rough and deep ditch which the peasants 
had made ready, and leaning over the unfortunate 
commander of the squadron found that he was dead. 

"// est mort!" he shouted to the troopers, making 
his way back to his horse at once. 

"Monsieur, this is terrible!" cried the trooper who 
had held the reins. "We are being shot down 
rapidly, and nothing is being done to help us. The 
captain is dead and his lieutenant; I think the ser- 
geants are also hurt." 

The engagement, so far as the squadron was con- 
cerned, had indeed come to a curious and dangerous 
halt. The troopers sat bunched together, some of the 
men reining their horses back as if about to flee. Yet 
no order came. There was no one to give the word 
of command. It was then that Tom showed the stuff 
of which he was made. It is true Mr. Riley should 
perhaps have come to the fore, or Jack; but neither 



Prisoners 95 

could speak the language, while, in any case, it was 
the duty of one of the troopers to conduct the action. 
However, when no one comes forward, and men are 
being shot down rapidly, it is clear that he who takes 
command on his shoulders, and acts wisely, is a 
blessing to his comrades. Jack took the post without 
a thought. To sit still longer was madness, and 
quite impossible." 

" Wheel about," he shouted in French. "Ah, 
they have closed in on us! We are caught between 
two fires. Forward, men, charge!" 

He led them at the enemy at full gallop ; but what 
could fifty men do against some hundreds? It hap- 
pened that this squadron of horse had been watched 
by the peasants, and for two days past efforts had 
been made to surround it. The wild inhabitants of 
this mountainous region, burning with hatred of the 
invader, had been brought together, and gradually, 
as the horsemen retreated from the coast and got into 
difficult country, the net had been drawn about them. 
There were perhaps five hundred peasants in rear of 
the party when Tom faced them about and charged. 
A crashing discharge of musketry swept the ranks of 
the troopers, dropping a dozen of the men from their 
saddles, and then began a rush on the part of the 
enemy. It looked, indeed, as if the remnant would be 
annihilated, and slashed to pieces where they stood. 
Tom looked anxiously and swiftly about him, and 
perceiving a building on the outskirts of the village, 
a little to one side, he instantly decided to occupy it. 



96 With Wellington in Spain 

" Right wheel!" he shouted. " Now gallop to that 
building. If the door is big enough, and we can 
open it, ride right in. Forward! Clear the rabble 
coming towards us." 

It happened that another section of the circle was 
approaching the scene of the action from the direction 
of the building towards which he and the troopers were 
now making, and these at once opened fire. But Tom 
set heels to his horse, and in a minute he and the 
men supporting him burst amongst the peasants, 
slashing at them to right and left, riding them down, 
and scattering them in every direction. It was ex- 
citing work while it lasted, and it had the effect of 
allowing the party a little breathing time. They rode 
up to the door of the building, to find it was a church, 
and in a twinkling the door was open. Up the five 
steps leading to it rode Tom, and after him came his 
comrades. 

" Dismount," he commanded. "Draw your car- 
bines and scatter about the place, to make sure that 
no windows or doors are open. Two of you stand 
guard over the horses." 

It was pitch dark within the church ; but a trooper 
quickly discovered a torch, and then some candles 
stored away in a box. 

"It won't do to keep them burning," said Tom, 
thinking rapidly. "The light would help the enemy 
to shoot us; but we must have something with which 
to inspect the place. Ah, I know — Andrews!" 

"Yes, sir?" 



Prisoners 97 

The big rifleman was standing stiffly at attention 
before Tom, his arm at the salute. 

4 ' Take the torch and this trooper with you. Go 
round; return when you have inspected, and re- 
port." 

The soldier saluted again with as much briskness 
as he would have displayed had Tom been a regular 
officer, and went away with one of the troopers whom 
Tom called. 

u Howeley !" he shouted. 

"Sir?" 

Like Andrews, the man was drawn up with the 
rigidity of a bayonet. 

" Collect all ammunition, place it in a central posi- 
tion, and dish it out ten rounds at a time. Report 
the total amount." 

"Yes, sir." 

The fine fellow went off like a rocket to perform 
the task, while Tom called to the troopers. 

"My lads," he shouted, "let us be silent; I have 
sent a man to inspect the place, and will post you all 
presently. Another will collect the ammunition, and 
give it out ten rounds at a time. Don't forget that 
we may be held up here for hours, and our lives will 
depend on the amount of cartridges we have. Now, 
I want two of you for another purpose." 

Two men at once came forward. "We are ready, 
monsieur," one of them said. "For the moment we 
and our comrades look to you as the leader. Indeed 
you are a leader; but for your quickness and decision 

(C570) 7 



98 With Wellington in Spain 

we should be back there at the entrance to the village 
shot down beside our comrades." 

" Then collect all saddle bags," said Tom, "pile 
them in a corner, and with them all water bottles. 
They are the most important. I'm not afraid of star- 
vation; for we have horses here, and one of them 
slaughtered will provide us with ample food. It is 
the water that is important; see to it, please." 

It was perhaps some ten minutes later that the 
defences of the church were ready. Tom busied him- 
self posting men at all vulnerable spots, and then 
clambered into the tower with Andrews. It was quite 
a modest erection, some fifty feet in height, but suffi- 
cient to give a view over the village. Lights could be 
seen in many directions, while shouts echoed through 
the air. There was the tramp of feet also, and a dull 
mass over at the entrance to the village. 

"They're gloating over the poor chaps they shot 
and knocked out of their saddles, sir," said Andrews. 
" It was sharp business; I was never in a brisker, and 
I've done two years of the campaign already. Came 
out in 1808, sir, and went home wounded. Beg par- 
don, sir, but what might your corps be?" 

"Corps? Corps?" exclaimed Tom, mystified for 
the moment. "Oh, I follow! I'm not in the army, 
Andrews. I was on my way out to Oporto, or, more 
correctly, I was going to sail for that place when I 
was impressed and sent aboard a British frigate. We 
had that action with the French man-of-war, and you 
were released. News had come out to the frigate, 



Prisoners 99 

meanwhile, that I ought never to have been impressed, 
and so the captain sent me on in the sloop to Oporto. 
By rights I ought to be seated at a desk adding up 
long, dry columns." 

Andrews gave vent to a gruff expression. " Strike 
me!" he cried, as if dumbfounded by the information; 
"and I and Howeley and all them French boys took 
you for an orficer. Anyways, sir, beggin' your par- 
don, you've done handsomely. It was a lucky thing 
for us that you took the command, for Mr. Barwood 
ain't fit for it. He got knocked out by the first bullet 
almost, and it was as much as he could do to stick to 
his saddle till we reached here. Mr. Riley ain't no 
better. If Howeley hadn't held him he'd have been 
left outside to be murdered. This here's a tough 
little business." 

It proved, in fact, a fortunate thing for all con- 
cerned that Trfm had taken the command. There 
are some who might express the opinion that he 
should not have done so, that it displayed an uppish 
spirit. Granted all that; but uppishness is just what 
is required in moments of stress and danger. The 
lad who is modest at all times, and yet who can 
come to the fore when circumstances urgently call 
for a leader, is a lad of the right sort, a benefactor 
to his comrades. In this case Tom had undoubtedly 
done the right thing, and, moreover, had done it 
well. 

"It was real smart," said Andrews respectfully. 
" Beggin' pardon again, sir; there's many who would 



ioo With Wellington in Spain 

have been cornered. To go forward was impossible, to 
retreat out of the question, seeing as there were three 
hundred or more of the ruffians behind us. This was 
the only course. It's queer to think that we, who are 
fighting for the Portuguese against the French, should 
be boxed up here in danger of having our throats slit 
by those who ought to be friends." 

" It's the fortune of war, Andrews," declared Tom. 
"I'm sorry for the wretches outside. By all accounts 
the French hate them intensely, for the Portuguese 
have shown more spirit than have the Spanish. They 
have contested the rights of the invaders from the 
beginning, and as a result the French have burned 
their villages and treated them badly. Indeed I 
believe they have behaved with the grossest cruelty. 
As a result there are reprisals, and we are swept up 
in one of these, and are likely to have a warm time 
of it before we are free." 

"It's bound to be an ugly business," admitted 
Andrews. "I can hear them coming now." 

"Then we'll go to the men," said Tom. " I'll give 
them orders not to fire till I tell them. Of course I 
shall make an attempt to win over the peasants." 

" Eh? How's that, sir?" asked Andrews. " What 
about their lingo?" 

"You forget I was meant for Oporto. I and my 
family have had associations with Portugal and Spain 
for a long while, and my cousins are Spanish. I 
speak both languages, but not well, I fear. I always 
hated lessons, and now wish to goodness I had been 



Prisoners 101 

a little more diligent. However, I can make myself 
understood easily, and will try to win the peasants 
over." 

They clambered down the long, rough ladder that 
led from the belfry, and went amongst the men, Tom 
warning all of them to hold their fire till he shouted. 
Meanwhile Howeley had reported to him that there 
was ammunition sufficient to supply each man with 
forty-two rounds. As for food and drink, to his dis- 
may he was informed that there was little of either; 
so that it looked as if the contest could not last for 
long. 

" We've just twenty-two men all told, counting 
yourself and the other officers," reported Andrews, 
some minutes later, saluting Tom as if he had no 
doubt as to his position. " Every window and door 
is guarded, and from what I can see of the troopers 
they are ready for any fighting. It's queer to think 
that we who were prisoners are in command, and 
no difficulty about it." 

There was little doubt that the situation was more 
or less unique, and caused Mr. Riley the utmost 
amusement. He, poor fellow, had been struck in 
the ribs somewhat heavily, and lay in a corner, with 
Jack close beside him ; but he smiled when our hero 
at length had time to approach him. 

"My lad, you've done right well; you're a dead 
loss to the navy," he smiled. "I'm not surprised; 
after what I saw aboard the frigate I felt you would 
do something. Jack and I haven't worried you since 



102 With Wellington in Spain 

we got here, as we saw you wanted freedom to think 
and arrange matters; but we're glad now that you're 
able to spare a few minutes. What will happen?" 

Tom stayed with them for a quarter of an hour, 
and now that he felt that he had done all that was 
possible in arranging the defence, he employed his 
wits and energies in seeing to his comrades. In 
the case of Mr. Riley, he, with the help of Andrews 
and Howeley, bound his chest very firmly with a 
couple of girths taken from the horses, first of all, 
however, placing a pad over the wound, which was 
little more than a contusion. For Jack equally simple 
surgery sufficed, for a bullet had penetrated his thigh, 
and, the bleeding having stopped, all that was wanted 
was a dressing and a bandage, and fortunately the 
troopers carried these with them. They had hardly 
made him comfortable when the lookout man posted 
in the tower reported that a mass of men were coming. 

" Remember — not a shot, my friends," Tom called 
out to the troops, "and take care not to show a light. 
I will see to these people and try to win them over." 

He scrambled up an ancient flight of stone steps 
and passed on to a ledge over the doorway, which, 
no doubt, served the purpose of a pulpit in fine 
weather. There was a dull roar of voices coming 
towards him, while the space between himself and 
the village seemed to be filled with figures. Ten 
minutes later a mob had drawn up in front of the 
church. Tom stood to his full height and hailed 
them. 



Prisoners 103 

" My friends," he shouted in Portuguese. "We 
are English!" 

A fearful yell answered him. Shrieks of anger 
floated up to his ears, while a hurricane of shots 
swept in his direction. Amidst the dancing torches 
that many of the people carried there flashed out 
splashes of flame. The vibrating roar of voices 
which followed had in it an awe-inspiring note. 
Tom might have been on the verge of a rocky 
coast on which huge breakers were thundering in 
their fury. That note spoke of hatred, of an ap- 
proaching triumph, of a horrible gloating on the part 
of the peasants. It told better than individual words 
could do what were the intentions of the enemy, what 
would be the fate of the besieged if they fell into their 
hands. Then, of a sudden, catching a better view 
perhaps of the solitary figure above them, the mob 
became silent. 

"My friends," called Tom, his tones clear, not a 
whimper in his voice, "you have made an error. 
There are five Englishmen amongst this party, five 
friends of the Portuguese. Let someone come for- 
ward to identify us." 

There might have been a mob of wild beasts out- 
side by the answer. The crowd, thinking no doubt 
that one of the Frenchmen was attempting to fool 
them, and rob them of a prey they now counted upon 
as their own, shrieked aloud and came surging for- 
ward. More shots rang out, stones were thrown ; and 
then, with a loud crash, the leaders came against the 



104 With Wellington in Spain 

door of the church. Tom clambered down to his 
men, stern and pale and determined. 

" Post three of them up on the ledge," he told 
Andrews, who was a valuable help to him. " Let 
others fire through the windows when I shout. Don't 
fire till then." 

He repeated the words in French, and then waited 
till there came a stunning blow upon the door, a blow 
which shook it to the hinges and threatened to throw 
it down. It was clear, in fact, that the mob outside 
were longing to get at the troopers. Shouts and 
oaths could be heard, while the clatter of firearms 
was incessant. 



CHAPTER VI 

Napoleon the Ambitious 

Within the village church in which the French 
troopers and their one-time English prisoners had 
taken refuge under Tom Clifford's guidance there 
was a deathly silence while the mob outside shrieked 
and shouted. Not one of the defenders but knew 
what fate awaited them if once the enemy beat in 
the doors, and knowing that they listened as blow 
after blow thundered upon the woodwork, shaking 
the doors till they threatened to fall down. 

" Andrews," shouted Tom, who had been listening 
acutely like the rest, and wondering what action he 
ought to take, " light up one of the torches and 
take a couple of men with you. We want some- 
thing to place behind the doors, for in a little while 
they will be beaten in. Meanwhile I will try again 
to pacify the peasants." 

It was a forlorn hope, and yet worth trying. Tom, 
therefore, clambered up the steep flight of stone steps 
again, while Andrews went off to do his bidding. 
Stepping past the three men who had ascended to the 
ledge above the crowd our hero once more stood to his 

105 



io6 With Wellington in Spain 

full height and shouted to attract the attention of the 
peasants. And once more his coming was the signal 
for an outburst of shouts, shrieks, groans, and hisses 
which might well have appalled a brave man. Muskets 
flashed in the semi-darkness, for night had now come, 
while here and there torches flamed over the heads of 
the people. Bullets spattered and broke against the 
stonework about him, thudding heavily, even splash- 
ing him with portions of lead. One enthusiast, in 
fact, as if driven frantic by the sight of his person, 
made a vain attempt to clamber up the ledge, and, 
missing his footing, fell back upon the crowd, his 
coming setting rise to oaths and shouts of anger. 
Then there fell a sudden silence while a brawny 
giant, a blacksmith no doubt, stepped from under 
the archway of the door, a huge hammer over his 
shoulder, showing that it was he who had been 
delivering those smashing blows on the door. 

" People of Portugal," Tom called out loudly, 
"■I have come again to speak to you. You fight 
with friends, not with enemies." 

The howl that followed would have scared even 
a veteran. 

" Friends! You say friends!" shouted the black- 
smith, stepping still farther out from the arch, while 
a couple of torches near him illuminated his person. 
" Who are you that you should try to fool us? We 
know our business well enough. For days we have 
watched this troop of horse, and for days we have 
vowed to kill every man of them, to kill them slowly 



Napoleon the Ambitious 107 

if we may. Who are you, speaking our tongue, who 
dare to say that you are friends?" 

Shouts of applause greeted the words. An excited 
individual near the speaker levelled a pistol and fired 
point-blank at Tom, narrowly missing his head. 
Then once more there was silence. The crowd, in 
fact, seemed to have realized their own power now, 
and knew well that the church was surrounded. 
Eager though they were to slaughter the troopers, 
they did not grudge a few moments' delay. 

" Who are you?" they shouted hoarsely. 

" I am English," answered Tom at once, "and so 
are four others amongst us. We were being carried 
as prisoners." 

"A lie!" came fiercely from someone in the crowd. 
"If he and the four beside were prisoners, why then 
were they armed? Why did they fight us at the 
entrance to the village?" 

The argument was greeted with roars of applause 
again, which silenced all Tom's efforts. Then the 
blacksmith held his hammer aloft to command silence, 
and, having obtained it, seized a torch and held it 
high up toward our hero. 

"Listen, friends and brothers," he called in hoarse 
tones. " There is one above who speaks our tongue 
and tells us that he and four others are English and 
therefore friends. Good! Let us say that this is no 
lie. There are four, while we are four hundred. 
Let these four, with the one who speaks to us, come 
out from the church. If their tale is true they shall 



108 With Wellington in Spain 

live and we will feed and house them. If they 
lie " 

The sentence was broken by discordant shouts of 
glee at the blacksmith's wit, shouts that boded ill 
for anyone foolhardy enough to place himself in the 
hands of such people, so roused by events, and mad 
for slaughter, that they were incapable of recognizing 
friend from foe. 

"Let the five come out to us," shouted the black- 
smith, "leaving the others to be dealt with as we 
will." 

Tom waited for the noise which followed to die 
down, and then bent over the crowd. " What you 
ask is impossible," he said firmly. M I and my 
English friends will not desert the troopers. But 
we are ready to hand ourselves over to a body of 
English troops when you bring them to us. To 
you we will not trust ourselves, and I warn you 
that efforts on your part will lead to the death of 
many. Now, be wise; reflect on the consequences 
and leave us alone." 

Had he wished to stir the rage of the peasants Tom 
could not have done it more effectually. Screams of 
rage filled the air, while a torrent of bullets sped to- 
ward him. He stepped back from the ledge, clam- 
bered down the stairs, and seized a carbine and 
ammunition. 

" My friends," he said in French, "those wolves 
outside ask for our lives. We will sell them dearly. 
Let each man fire the moment the attack begins, 



Napoleon the Ambitious 109 

remembering to make each shot tell, for ammunition 
is very scarce. Ah, is that you, Andrews?" 

"Yes, sir," came the answer, while the rifleman 
drew himself up stiffly in front of our hero, a lighted 
torch still in one hand. "There are pews, which we 
might break up," he reported; "but they're light, 
too light to be of use in a doorway. But one of the 
horses is dead, sir. If we were to pull him along 
here he'd make an obstacle they'd have difficulty in 
moving." 

"A horse!" the novel idea startled Tom. And 
then, on consideration, it appeared that nothing could 
be better. At once he sent Andrews off with four of 
the men to drag the animal towards the door, while 
he himself took the candle, and, striding over to the 
pews that filled the floor of the church, closely 
inspected them. A scheme for saving ammunition 
was growing in his brain ; for it was clear that if 
the enemy persisted in an attack the wherewithal 
to load the muskets would soon be expended. 

"The doors will be broken down in no time," he 
told himself; "then we shall be separated from the 
peasants merely by the barrier we happen to place 
in position — a horse on this occasion. What we want 
is something long with which to keep them at a 
distance." 

Calling two of the troopers, he urged them to break 
up half a dozen of pews as swiftly as possible, keeping 
the long timbers intact. 

" Use your sabres," he said, "and when you have 



no With Wellington in Spain 

the timbers separated, point them at one end. I want 
a couple of dozen spears with which to fend off these 
peasants. Ah, there goes the hammer again!" 

A terrific blow resounded upon the door, which was 
followed almost immediately by a sharp report from 
the ledge above, and then by a howl. The black- 
smith had not lived to see the triumph that he had 
anticipated. One of the French troopers had leaned 
over and shot him with his carbine. But the shot 
made little difference. A dozen infuriated peasants 
sprang forward to seize the hammer, while shots came 
from all directions. Then, amidst the sounds, steps 
were heard on the narrow staircase leading from the 
ledge. 

" Monsieur," said the man, running up to Tom, 
11 there are men bringing masses of straw to pile 
against the door. My comrades have discovered a 
gallery leading from the ledge, with steps at the far 
end. There is a large room also, and much building 
material there. It seems that at one time the church 
was larger. Will monsieur sanction the tossing of 
stones on the heads of the enemy?" 

Tom nodded promptly, his features lighting up. 
By the aid of the flickering torch the trooper was able 
to see that the young fellow who had so suddenly 
taken command of the party was actually smiling. 

"Ma foil" he exclaimed sotto voce, " but the Eng- 
lishman cares nothing for this trouble! He is the one 
to lead." 

" I will come up as soon as I am able," said Tom, 



Napoleon the Ambitious m 

11 Meanwhile, do as best you can. Toss anything on 
their heads, but, above all, save ammunition." 

The man was gone in a moment, while blows again 
sounded on the door, one more violent than any which 
had preceded it shattering the upper hinges. The 
shouts of triumph which burst from the peasants were 
followed by a couple or more dull thuds, as if heavy 
bodies had been dropped on the heads of the attackers, 
and then by a chorus of shrieks denoting hatred and 
execration. Meanwhile a stir in the church told of 
men struggling at some task, and presently Andrews 
appeared with his helpers, and behind them the carcass 
of a horse. 

" He fell dead in a hollow leading to a doorway," 
explained Andrews in short gasps, "and to bring 
him here we had to drag him up a couple of high 
steps. Once on the main floor of the church the 
carcass slid easily enough; but earlier — my word it 
was hard work! There! the carcass fills the lower 
part of the doorway, and as the legs are in this direc- 
tion those brutes will have nothing to take a grip of. 
What orders, sir?" 

" Pull the pews out of their places and pile them 
one on another round the doorway," answered Tom, 
who had been sketching out his plans in the mean- 
while. "You and Howeley and two of the troopers 
will take post on them a little to one side, and will 
fire into the crowd once the doors give way. The 
other men will be below you, and I am supplying 
them with spears made from the timbers of some of 



H2 With Wellington in Spain 

the pews. You and they together should be able to 
keep the enemy off." 

It may be imagined that each man amongst the 
defenders appointed to some task had laboured at it 
with all haste, and by now the men Tom had in- 
structed to break up pews had almost finished their 
work. Indeed, within a few minutes, and just be- 
fore the doors were burst in and fell over the carcass 
of the horse with a clatter, they had produced more 
than a dozen long pieces of strong timber, each one 
roughly hacked to a point at one end; and being 
some fifteen feet in length these improvised spears 
promised to be of great service. In a few seconds, in 
fact, they were put to a useful if somewhat unkind 
purpose ; for the fall of the doors was the signal for 
a mad rush on the part of the peasants. The three 
or four hundred or more outside, howling about the 
entrance to the church, launched themselves promptly 
at the black void, where but a few moments before 
the flames from the torches had shown doors. A 
hundred struggled to lead the attackers where there 
was room only for half a dozen, and as a result they 
came surging on in a compact mass, which threat- 
ened to push the carcass of the horse aside as if 
it were a mere nothing. Then wiser counsels pre- 
vailed. Elbow room was given to those in advance, 
and soon shots were whistling through the doorway, 
while men armed with sabres, with pitchforks, with 
scythes and every class of weapon dashed up the steps 
and hurled themselves at the opening. Thud! thud! 




C570 



THE PEASANTS BREAK IN THE CHURCH DOORS 



Napoleon the Ambitious 113 

the stones came from the ledge above, striking the 
peasants down. The muskets wielded by Andrews 
and his comrades swept away the more dangerous of 
the enemy — those provided with firearms — while the 
troopers handling the long spears fashioned from pew 
timbers made effective use of their weird weapons. 
They thrust them at the enemy, giving terrible 
wounds. They beat them over the head till many 
dropped, and then advancing a pace or two, so that 
their weapons projected through the doorway over the 
carcass of the horse, they drove the peasants away 
from the entrance altogether. 

"Stop firing!" shouted Tom, seeing that the pea- 
sants were retreating. 

"We have taught them a sharp lesson, and that is 
enough for the moment. We don't want to rouse 
their anger further, and will try to show them that all 
we want is to be left alone, but that if they attack us 
we are fully able to give hard knocks in return. Any- 
one hurt?" 

He repeated the words in French, and was relieved 
to hear that not one of the men had received so much 
as a scratch. 

"Then we are well out of the first attack. Now 
we'll eat," he said. "We shall have to go on short 
rations without a doubt, and since that can't be helped 
we must make the most of it." 

Leaving a man still in the belfry, and one of the 
troopers on the ledge, he posted two others at the rear 
of the church. Then he and Andrews, with the help 

(0 570) 8 



U4 With Wellington in Spain 

of two of the troopers, collected all the rations con- 
tained in the saddle bags, divided them into four 
portions, and finally issued a share of one portion to 
each one of the defenders. Thereafter they sat in the 
darkness eating the food, while, there being no news 
of the enemy, who seemed to have retired to the vil- 
lage, some of the men went to sleep, while others lit 
pipes and smoked contentedly. Tom sat down beside 
Mr. Riley and Jack, and devoured his own meal with 
an avidity which showed that excitement rather in- 
creased his appetite than the reverse. 

" Splendidly managed, lad!" declared Mr. Riley, 
when he had finished the meal. " Not the eating of 
your rations, but the defence. Dear, dear, what a 
loss to the service!" 

" Which service, sir?" asked Jack swiftly, for 
though wounded, and more or less incapable, the old 
spirit was still there. There was, in fact, a cheeky 
grin of enquiry on his somewhat pallid features, a 
pallor made even more evident by the flickering flame 
of a torch burning near the trio. 

"Eh?" asked Mr. Riley, taken aback. "Which 
service? The service, I said." 

"Army?" grinned Jack exasperatingly. 

"I'll hammer you, my lad, when once you're fit," 
laughed the naval officer. "As if anyone could mis- 
understand me! I say that the service has lost a 
budding Nelson — a Nelson, Jack; as good a man as 
ever trod a deck. Tom's a loss to the service, now 
isn't he?" 



Napoleon the Ambitious 115 

" Army; yes, sir," grinned Jack, rolling his eyes at 
the naval officer. 

" Joking apart, though," said Mr. Riley, ignoring 
the fun of the ensign, "Tom'll be a loss in an office. 
Just imagine our friend perched on a high stool 
battling with facts and figures, when he's shown he's 
capable of battling with people. Tom, I call it a 
downright sin. If you were my brother I'd say ( Go 
hang' to the office." 

" Hear, hear!" cried Jack. " If Tom'd just give it 
up for a time and come along with us, why, I'd " 

"You?" interrupted Mr. Riley, with a smile of 
incredulity; for though Jack was undoubtedly dashing 
and gallant enough, he lacked the stamina and serious 
thought of one who leads. 

" I," repeated the incorrigible ensign, "/ — with a 
capital to it, please — I'd make the dear boy a general 
before he knew what was happening." 

There was a roar of laughter at that, a roar which 
brought the troopers to a sitting posture, their fingers 
on their carbines. And then a smile was exchanged 
amongst them. 

" Parbleu! but these English are proper fellows," 
said one to his comrade. "They come to us as 
prisoners, and we see at once that they are good 
comrades. They fall into the same trap with us too, 
and, having received arms, act as if they were French 
and not English. Now, one of them having saved the 
lives of all here, and having brought us to a nest 
which may be described as that of a hornet, they 



u6 With Wellington in Spain 

laugh and joke and make merry. Ma foi! but these 
English are too good to fight with. It is the rascals 
of Spaniards we should engage with." 

" Hear 'em!" grunted the rifleman Howeley, 
stretched near his comrade Andrews. "That 'ere 
Mr. Jack's a givin' lip to the naval orficer. Ten ter 
one he's sayin' as how the British army's better nor 
the navy. Equal, I says, all the time, though the 
army's my choice. Mate, who's this Mr. Clifford? 
What's his corps? He's a smart 'un." 

His mouth went agape when the worthy Andrews 
informed him that Tom was merely a civilian, a class 
upon which Howeley had, in his own particular lordly 
way, been rather apt to look down. 

" Civilian !" he gasped. " Strike me! But " 

" He's led us grandly. He's dropped into the post 
of commander as if he had been trained for it, as if it 
were his by right. I know all that," declared Andrews. 
" Tell you, my lad, he'd make a proper soldier." 

Meanwhile Tom had faced the naval lieutenant 
eagerly. 

" You think I'd do as an officer, sir?" he asked. 

"Indeed I do," came the answer. "A regular 
could not have done better than you have done. 
You'll be a loss " 

"To the army," burst in the irrepressible Jack, 
grinning widely. 

"To either service," said Mr. Riley seriously. 

"Then, sir, I shall ask to join the army," declared 
our hero. " I seem to have been meant for it. This 



Napoleon the Ambitious 117 

is the second time that my efforts to reach an office 
have been foiled. I shall attempt to obtain a com- 
mission ; then I'll see what can be done to help Jack 
to capture Boney and turn the French out of the 
Peninsula.'* 

There was more laughter at that, laughter turned 
on the young ensign. A little later Mr. Riley dragged 
a paper from his pocket and slowly read a few lines to 
our hero. 

■" You'll be interested to hear what is happening," 
he said. " Bonaparte, otherwise known as Napoleon, 
sometimes also as the * Little Corporal', or as the ' Little 
Corsican ', Emperor of the French, now proposes to 
leave the Peninsula and march from Paris en route 
for Russia, which kingdom he wishes to conquer and 
add to his realms. Napoleon is not, in fact, satisfied 
with the whole of France, Italy, and other kingdoms. 
He desires to place the whole of Europe under one 
king, that king to be himself; to have but one capital 
for all, and that Paris; one code of laws, one currency, 
one language perhaps. It is Russia that now attracts 
him. To-morrow — who knows? — it will be Eng- 
land." 

"But " flashed out Jack, indignant at the very 

suggestion. 

" Quite so," admitted Mr. Riley, stopping him with 
a smile; "but, as Jack was about to announce, there 
is always the service." 

" Eh?" asked the ensign, puzzled for the moment. 

" The service stands in his way. Nelson defeated 



n8 With Wellington in Spain 

his navy in 1805, and thereby made invasion of 
England impossible. The service, please, Mr. 
Jack." 

Jack was caught, and had the grace to admit it. 
"I grant you that Trafalgar was a tremendous vic- 
tory, sir," he said. " But there's the army to be 
considered also." 

" Right, lad," came the emphatic reply. "And 
well they have done too. See what wonders Wel- 
lington and his men have accomplished in the 
Peninsula." 

"Tell us all about it, Mr. Riley," asked Tom. 
" I'm like hundreds of others. I know that Napoleon 
desires to conquer all within his reach, and is said to 
have designs on England. I know, too, that our 
troops have been in this Peninsula since 1808, fight- 
ing the battles of the Portuguese and Spanish, and 
with great success. But why should we not have 
left them to it? I suppose we're afraid that Boney 
will become altogether too strong unless we interfere. 
Isn't that it? I haven't followed the various engage- 
ments, of which there have been numbers." 

"Then here's for a yarn," began the naval lieu- 
tenant. "Those peasants, poor fools, have left us 
alone for the time being, and as my wound is too 
painful to let me sleep, and this Jack seems to be 
eager for information, why, I'll tell you the tale, and 
mighty fine hearing it makes. To begin with, we 
hark back to the ' Little Corsican ', the artillery 
officer — a commoner, you must understand — who, 



Napoleon the Ambitious 119 

by dint of sheer force of character and military and 
diplomatic genius, became Emperor of the French 
after that awful Revolution. Let us understand the 
position thoroughly. You have on the throne of 
France a man born in a lowly station. There is no 
long list of kingly ancestors behind him. Louis 
Capet, late King of France, was beheaded. The 
kingdom had become a republic, where equality and 
fraternity were supposed to flourish, and where the 
people were still shivering after the awful ordeals 
through which they had passed, scarcely able to be- 
lieve that the days of the guillotine had really gone — 
those terrible days when no man, or woman either, 
knew whether the next day or so would or would not 
see himself or herself sent to sudden doom. 

"At this moment Napoleon Bonaparte, a distin- 
guished soldier, appeared upon the scene, and we 
find him in the course of a little time Emperor of the 
French, rich, all-powerful, and extremely ambitious. 
That ambition which might, had he wished it, have 
turned towards the path of peace, has been resolutely 
bent towards conquest. As I have said, Napoleon 
seeks to subjugate Europe. He dreams of a world 
power, with Paris as the centre and hub of that huge 
empire, and himself ruler over millions of down- 
trodden people. Doubtless England would have 
shared the same fate as other nations, and would 
have been overrun by French troops and mercenaries, 
had it not been for our navy. That is the arm, my 
lads, which has kept us free of invasion, that still 



120 With Wellington in Spain 

sweeps the seas, and keeps French transports from 
venturing across to our tight little island." 

"Then, if that is so," ventured Tom, "why not 
confine our efforts to the sea? At Trafalgar we beat 
the French and Spanish fleets combined. Why then 
should we now take the side of the Spaniards?" 

"A fair question, and easily answered, "smiled Mr. 
Riley. "Here is the plain, unvarnished explanation. 
You may say, putting sentiment and natural sym- 
pathy apart, that it is nothing to us that Napoleon has 
thrust his brother on the Spanish throne, displacing 
the rightful ruler; or if he subjugates Russia, putting 
a ruler of his own choice on the throne there also. 
You may argue that that is no affair of England's. 
But let us look at the certain results of such success 
on his part. He conquers a kingdom, and straight- 
way has all the resources of that kingdom at his com- 
mand. Its men are at his service, its fleets also; his 
armies and his navy are greatly increased in power 
thereby. Thus, first with one addition and then with 
another to this world power he seeks, Napoleon 
arrives at a point where he can destroy England in 
spite of her navy. There you find a reason for our 
actions, and for the presence of our troops here in 
the Peninsula. We fight to free the peoples here, 
thereby reducing Napoleon's power. We seize this 
opportunity because the peoples of the Peninsula will 
have none of Napoleon's ruling. The countries seethe 
with indignation, there are riots everywhere. Let us 
but drive him and his troops out of the Peninsula, 



Napoleon the Ambitious 121 

and Napoleon himself meet with reverses elsewhere, 
and all the downtrodden peoples he has already con- 
quered will turn upon him. There will be a great 
alliance against this despot, and in the course of time, 
in spite of his gigantic armies and their undoubtedly 
fine organization, we shall wrest his power from him, 
perhaps even his kingdom." 

That was exactly what England was striving for in 
those days. It may almost be said that a parallel 
situation had arisen to that which beset the people of 
England in the days of Good Queen Bess. Then 
Spain was a world power; that is to say, she owned 
amongst other possessions those American colonies 
that brought her so much wealth. The Gulf of 
Mexico saw many of her ships; her vessels, of enor- 
mous tonnage when compared with those of England 
at that time, sailed from the coast of Mexico laden with 
jewels and gold and wealth wrung from the natives, 
those Astec people who displayed such gentleness 
of character, such civilized habits, alongside of a 
barbarous custom of human sacrifice to which the 
world has seen no equal, not even in the days of 
King Coffee in Ashantee. Wealth can buy power; 
it purchases ships, and if there be the men to man 
them, then a wealthy nation can endow itself with a 
fleet which may be the terror of its neighbours. That 
was the position between Spain and England in those 
days. That Armada was preparing. It aimed at the 
subjugation of England, and the story is well enough 
known how Drake and his admirals set forth in their 



122 With Wellington in Spain 

tiny ships, manned by men who may be said to have 
been born aboard them, and in spite of the size of 
the galleons of the Armada, in spite of paucity of 
numbers and shortness of ammunition, contrived to 
break up the huge fleet when almost within sight of 
our shores. That was nearly a parallel situation. 
Now, instead of Spain, France aimed at our invasion, 
its Emperor Napoleon being ambitious to add Eng- 
land to the other nations he was bringing beneath his 
sway. Who knows what might have happened had 
there been no sea to contend with and no fleet? But 
we may fairly surmise that this country would have 
given a good account of herself, for already her armies 
in Portugal and Spain had chastised the French. 
Whatever the result under such circumstances, there 
was that sea to contend with, and Nelson and his 
admirals had so carefully watched it, and had fought 
so strenuously, that the fleet of France had been 
annihilated at Trafalgar. Thus the fear of invasion 
was gone for the moment. We had the future to 
consider, and, thoughtful of our own security and of 
the danger which would surely arise again so soon as 
Napoleon had brought Europe beneath his sway, we 
sent our troops to the Peninsula, there to oppose 
the man whose restless ambition kept the west in 
a state of turmoil, whose decree held thousands and 
thousands of men under arms when they might have 
been engaged in some peaceful occupation, and whose 
constant succession of skirmishes and battles filled 
the hospitals of Europe, sent thousands of maimed 



Napoleon the Ambitious 123 

wretches back to their homes, and crowded the ceme- 
teries. That was the direct result of Napoleon's am- 
bitious policy, of his aggression, and let those who 
hold him up as a hero think of the unhappy wretches 
who suffered pain, and whose cries of anguish are 
now forgotten. Let them remember the huge number 
of young men in the first blush of life who found a 
grave on the many battlefields of Europe. 

But that was the position before Napoleon set his 
eyes on the Peninsula, determining to place his 
brother on the throne of Spain and so bring the entire 
nation under his power. It was this latter period 
which was of greatest interest to our hero, and he 
listened eagerly while Mr. Riley told of the landing 
of our troops in Portugal, of their hardships, and of 
the strenuous fighting they had experienced. 



CHAPTER VII 

A Tight Corner 

"Now for our troops and the Peninsula," said Mr. 
Riley, settling himself in a corner of the old church 
and fixing his eyes for a few moments on the flam- 
ing and smoking torch which illuminated that part. 
"Those peasants seem to have decided to leave us 
alone for to-night, so that we have the time between 
this and the morning to ourselves. I imagine, too, 
that we may be congratulated ; since it is easier for a 
few to defend a given place when they have daylight 
to help them. Ah, the sentry moves!" 

In the dim light cast by the torch they saw the 
trooper whom Tom had stationed at the open doors 
of the place slowly rise to his feet and peer out. A 
minute later they watched as he levelled his musket. 
Then he seemed to change his mind, for of a sudden 
he dropped the weapon softly to the ground and 
gripped his sabre. And there he remained, in a 
posture that showed preparedness, for all the world 
like a tiger ready to spring. Nor was it long before 
he suddenly awoke to action; for there came sl 
sound from outside the door, and a dull murmur 
echoed from the distance. Creeping silently towards 

124 



A Tight Corner 125 

him, Tom peered through the doorway over his 
shoulder, and for a time saw nothing. Then, in 
the distance, he thought he could distinguish a dark 
mass between himself and the village, while nearer 
at hand there were two figures. 

" Going to try a surprise," he told himself. " They 
have sent two of their most daring spirits ahead, and 
will follow immediately." 

Promptly he crept away to warn the men, who by 
now were asleep for the most part ; and very quietly 
they mustered about the door, while those on guard 
at the various danger spots about the building retained 
their positions. 

" Gather about the door and pick up your spears," 
he warned the men in a whisper. " Leave the two 
who are creeping on to the sentry and Andrews." 

The stalwart rifleman had already taken his post 
beside the sentry, armed just as he was with a sabre, 
and there, like cats waiting to pounce, they crouched. 
Peering out again over the carcass of the horse, Tom 
saw two heads appear, and then three more imme- 
diately behind them. One of the peasants almost in- 
stantly leaped on to the carcass, and was joined there 
within a second by a comrade. There was a loud 
shout from one, as if to signal to the mass behind, 
and then he and his fellow leaped into the church, 
while others appeared just behind the carcass of the 
horse. 

"On them!" shouted the gallant Andrews. "Cut 
them down! Back with them!" 



126 With Wellington in Spain 

He threw himself at the attackers, and the trooper 
with him. For a minute perhaps there was a fierce 
scuffle, and then the two retired, as their work was 
accomplished. Both the daring spirits who had in- 
vaded the church had paid the penalty of their rash- 
ness and lay dead upon the floor. But the others 
were by no means disheartened. It appeared that 
a dozen or more had crept forward, and with loud 
shouts they now rushed at the opening. 

" Keep them off with the spears. Don't fire unless 
you are compelled," Tom ordered loudly. " We've 
shown them that we are ready for them, and the less 
fuss we make about the matter the more they will fear 
us in the future. Ah, here they come!" 

By now a surging crowd had arrived outside the 
church, and once more the scene of a little time 
before was repeated. Muskets and ancient firearms 
were discharged from every point, and in the most 
haphazard fashion. Indeed it may be said that 
in this respect the attackers were as dangerous to 
one another as to the defenders of the church. A 
hundred frenzied creatures hurled themselves into 
the doorway, and for a while it looked as if they 
would sweep all before them. But those deadly 
spears, harmless though they looked on a casual 
inspection, did the work expected of them. Men 
were tossed back with jagged wounds in the chest. 
Others were felled with blows over the head, while 
in many instances the attackers were pushed away 
by sheer strength. Then, at a signal from Tom, 




<J TO HIS AMAZEMENT THE MAN CLUTCHED HIM 
BY THE HAND " 



A Tight Corner 127 

four of the defenders joined Andrews and the sentry, 
each armed with sabres, and fell furiously upon the 
mob. Shrieks filled the air; the maddened peasants 
dropped their weapons and endeavoured to grapple 
with the soldiers. They bit at the men and fought 
like fiends. Then some turned, pressing away from 
the door, but only to be thrust forward again by the 
weight of those behind them. It was a startled cry 
from someone in the background which at length 
caused the mob to retire; a sudden panic seemed to 
seize them and in a little while they were racing pell 
pell mell from the building. 

' 'Now go back to your corners and sleep," said 
Tom. " We have taught them another lesson, and 
next time they will not be quite so bold. Let us have 
a look at these fellows." 

He took the torch and leaned over the two men 
who had been cut down by Andrews and the trooper. 
They were powerful fellows, armed with billhooks 
and had their boots thickly wrapped with straw so 
as to deaden the sound of their coming. 

" Put them outside," he ordered, "and to-morrow, 
at the first streak of dawn, we will send out a party 
to remove the other bodies. We may be cooped up 
here for a week, and things would then become un- 
pleasant. That reminds me; there's the question of 
food and water. Well, that must settle itself; we'll 
wait for morning." 

There was nothing else to be done ; therefore, hav- 
ing posted his sentries, and cautioned them to be 



128 With Wellington in Spain 

very watchful, Tom retired to the corner in which he 
had left Mr. Riley and Jack. 

"A nice little skirmish, Tom," said the former. 
" By the time you join the army you'll have become 
a veteran. These little conflicts are all good practice, 
for if I am not mistaken the peasants will make tre- 
mendous efforts when the day comes. But sit down. 
I'm eager to tell my tale before another disturbance 
comes. Where was I? Oh, I remember! We were 
talking of the troops in the Peninsula. You under- 
stand that Napoleon's armies were massed at this 
time in both Portugal and Spain. Well, Wellington 
— then Sir Arthur Wellesley — sailed from Cork in 
July, 1808, with some ten thousand men, and landed 
near Oporto. An experienced general such as he 
was, one, too, fresh from conquests in India, was 
not likely to let the grass grow beneath his feet, and 
almost at once he had a nice little skirmish with the 
French at Brilos and at Rolica, causing Laborde, 
their commander, to withdraw. 

" He would have pushed on at once without a doubt, 
but information now reached him that General Anstru- 
ther had landed at Peniche, and, it being important to 
join hands with him, he left Laborde for the moment 
and marched to meet the new arrivals. Almost at once 
General Sir Harry Burrard appeared upon the scene, 
with orders from the Home authorities to take the 
chief command; for these authorities were for ever 
changing their minds. You observe that they send 
Wellesley to the Peninsula, a general with a great 



A Tight Corner 129 

and recent reputation, and replace him within a few 
days by a second general, who, however skilled, had 
certainly not the experience of the brilliant officer 
first selected. At this time the British force was 
encamped at Vimeiro, and a fierce engagement fol- 
lowed, forced upon our troops by the French, and 
arising at that point where Wellesley's own particular 
command was located. He beat the French hand- 
somely, after a fierce engagement in which both 
sides fought most gallantly, and having done so, and 
received the congratulations of Sir Harry Burrard, 
Wellesley promptly found himself the third in com- 
mand instead of the second ; for Sir Hugh Dalrymple 
now arrived to take command of the invading force, 
thus displaying a further change of policy on the part 
of the vacillating Ministry then in charge of our affairs. 

"And now we must switch off from the forces en- 
gaged in and about Oporto," said Mr. Riley, hitching 
himself a little higher in his corner and crossing his 
legs for greater comfort. "We come to the doings 
of Sir John Moore, a commander who won the esteem 
of Napoleon himself, and whose memory will be ever 
honoured amongst the French. And just let me di- 
gress for a moment. It is perhaps a most suitable 
opportunity, too, for bringing the matter forward, 
seeing that we are here prisoners in a sense of the 
French, and yet, if I make no mistake, in command 
of them." 

He smiled quizzingly at Tom, and laughed aloud 
when the latter coloured. 

(0 570) 9 



130 With Wellington in Spain 

" I — I couldn't well help it, sir," stuttered our hero, 
as if ashamed of his action. " You see, there we 
were in a hole, and " 

Mr. Riley's laughter cut short the speech. 

" I was only poking fun, lad," he smiled. " We all 
bless you for your gallant intervention. But let me 
mention this matter. It is an opportune moment, I 
say. I was speaking of Sir John Moore, and the 
honour the French had for him. Look at the posi- 
tion throughout. Lads, we are fighting gentlemen, 
that is the consensus of opinion amongst officers 
and in the ranks. The French have fought us right 
gallantly. They at least are open enemies, but the 
Spaniards, for whose help we are here, disgust us. 
There are times, I hear, when our troops wish matters 
were different, and the Spaniards the real enemies, 
and sometimes the Portuguese also, for they pre- 
tend friendship, while everywhere there are traitors, 
everywhere men in authority amongst them — nobles 
and others who form the Juntas or Parliaments 
which govern the countries now — who oppose the 
men who have come to free their countries in 
every possible way, who are mean and contemp- 
tible in their dealings with them, whose policy 
changes from day to day and who appear at times 
to act as if they wished the French to remain victori- 
ous. There! I have had my growl. Napoleon is a 
great man, no doubt, with dangerous ambitions, 
dangerous, that is to say, to the nations surrounding 
France. The French officers and men, I repeat, are 



A Tight Corner 131 

gentlemen, with whom it is an honour to cross swords. 
Now let me get to the subject of Sir John Moore and 
his unlucky army of penetration." 

" And the retreat, which has become famous," said 
Jack, becoming serious for a moment. 

" Quite so, and very rightly too; for the retreat 
which followed the forward march of Sir John Moore's 
army was conducted in a manner that has won the 
praise of all. He marched for Madrid on 18 October, 
with some 30,000 infantry and 5000 cavalry, all wear- 
ing the red cockade of Spain in their caps. And 
perhaps it will be well to tell you at this point that 
the efforts of our troops elsewhere in the command 
of Wellesley, or of the other generals whom the 
changing policy of our British Ministers had sent to 
conduct affairs, had resulted in an agreement with 
the French, whereby Portugal was evacuated by their 
forces and all strong places in that country given up 
to our men. 

" Having mentioned that, I can now explain that Sir 
John Moore's army was to carry the war into Spain, 
and marching in the direction of Madrid to combine 
with the Spaniards and attempt to oust the invading 
armies of Napoleon. On 13 November we hear of 
him at Salamanca; and now we have an illustration 
of the weak and vacillating action of the Spanish 
Junta, combined with as equally blameworthy action 
on the part of Mr. Frere, our ambassador in Spain. 
Where the greatest pains should have been taken to 
supply Sir John Moore with accurate information 



132 With Wellington in Spain 

concerning the movements of the enemy, the utmost 
carelessness seems to have been the order of the day. 
As a result, Sir John was in the dangerous dilemma of 
not knowing whether the circumstances warranted his 
pushing on towards Madrid, or whether he ought at 
once to begin a retreat towards the coast or into 
Portugal. It was not, in fact, till an evening in 
December, when already the winter was upon him, 
that he had certain information that Napoleon himself 
was massing all his troops, and that in cavalry alone 
he outnumbered the British by 12,000. Such infor- 
mation set our troops retreating rapidly by way of 
the Galician mountains, and hot in pursuit marched 
255,000 men, with 50,000 horses, while a force of 
32,000 kept in rear and held the lines of communi- 
cation. 

"To describe the many incidents of that memor- 
able march would require a length of time, and since 
we ought already to be asleep, preparing ourselves 
for trouble to-morrow, I will merely sketch the 
events which followed. For 250 miles our troops 
were harassed by the enemy's cavalry, and daily there 
were severe skirmishes between our rearguard and 
the French. Recollect that it was winter, and that 
the line of retreat passed amongst the mountains, 
where our columns trudged through valleys and over 
passes covered deep in snow. It is not difficult to 
realize the terrible work this entailed, how the cold 
and exposure and constant need for exertion told on 
men and beasts. One can readily perceive that bag- 



A Tight Corner 133 

gage animals broke down under the strain, and that 
presently the army found itself compelled to carry its 
own provisions. Add to the difficulties of the cold 
and snow and the mountainous route the fact that 
a horde of non-combatants accompanied the army, 
servants, grooms, wives and children of the soldiers, 
and one sees the possibilities of added difficulty and 
misery. Soon men and women began to fall by the 
way, as had the horses and mules. They lagged 
behind, wearied and utterly careless in their misery 
of the consequences. Frozen and starved they lay 
down by the way, and soon the snow hid them. And 
always a cloud of French horsemen followed, seeking 
every opportunity to charge, and dashing in amongst 
the stragglers and helpless. No wonder that the 
army dwindled. No wonder that its numbers fell 
away till but a portion remained. But still the 
retreat proceeded, and ever the gallant rearguard held 
the French at bay. 

" On the last day of 1808 Moore quitted Astorga 
in Leon. On the very next, the first day of 1809, 
Napoleon entered the same place with 80,000 men, his 
advance guard of relentless cavalry being still in touch 
with our men. There the great Bonaparte remained, 
leaving the final work to the Duke of Dalmatia, and 
conceiving it certain that the whole British army 
would be exterminated. Well they might have been 
too, for here we have an example of what I have 
mentioned. Along the line of retreat, when the 
Spanish authorities could have, and should have, 



134 With Wellington in Spain 

made full preparations to supply our troops and fol- 
lowers with rations and all that they required, they 
did nothing to help. Even food was not forthcoming, 
so that our desperate and hungry men were forced t6 
pillage the inhabitants. 

"It is a sad tale, lads," said Mr. Riley after a 
pause, "but a gallant tale also, for Sir John and his 
fine fellows at length reached Corunna, with but 
14,000 all told, but with their cannon, their colours, 
and their trophies intact. In fact they came to the 
coast covered with honour and renown, but starved 
and frost-bitten, and minus many and many a com- 
rade. And there more fighting was necessary, for 
our fleet was not in sight. The battle of Corunna 
which followed ended in victory for us, but cost the 
lives of many gallant fellows, and of that of Sir John 
Moore amongst them. Then our troops embarked, 
the fleet having arrived meanwhile, and as they sailed 
away, there, above the citadel where Sir John and 
many a gallant comrade was buried, flew the flag 
of France, not at the summit of the post, but half- 
masted, in respect for one who had proved an able 
and a courageous leader. That, my lads, was another 
proof of the feelings of the enemy for us. If fight we 
must, Frenchmen at least have that generosity of feeling 
which allows them to pay honour to a brave enemy." 

The naval lieutenant sat back once more in his 
corner, his eyes fixed upon the flaming torch. Tom 
looked over at the sentry, standing alert and without 
a movement just behind the carcass of the horse. 



A Tight Corner 135 

And straightway he wondered whether he would live 
to take part in such a retreat as that of Sir John 
Moore, and whether, should he be involved in such 
an affair, he would conduct himself as became a 
British officer. Then Mr. Riley's voice once more 
broke the silence. 

"We have heard of the opening events of this 
Peninsula War," he said. " Napoleon's invasion of 
Spain, and his placing of his brother Joseph on the 
throne without the wish or consent of the people, 
had resulted in some passages of arms between the 
French and English which must have opened the 
eyes of Bonaparte. But it did not deter him. Fol- 
lowing the embarkation of Sir John Moore's army, 
he ordered the invasion of Portugal again, and in a 
little while Soult, a famous French marshal, held that 
country right down to the River Douro. 

" Once more I will sketch the events which fol- 
lowed. Wellesley, again in chief command, marched 
against the enemy, forced the passage of the Douro, 
in itself a most brilliant undertaking, and drove the 
French back into Spain. Following Marshal Soult, 
Wellesley crossed the frontier in June, 1809, w * tn 
but 20,000 British troops, though he had some 
57,000 Spanish and Portuguese soldiers to aid him, 
the great majority being merely irregulars. These 
latter were under various commanders, of whom I can 
call to memory at the moment Cuesta, the Spanish 
commander-in-chief, a useless person; Romana, 
Blake, and Beresford. 



136 With Wellington in Spain 

" At this moment the French were disposed as fol- 
lows: Victor, with some 20,000 men, was on the 
Tagus. Sebastiani was in La Mancha with a force 
not quite so strong. Thousands were collected about 
Madrid, in Galicia, Leon, and Old Castille also, while 
there was a division of cavalry and 40,000 infantry 
stationed in Aragon and Catalonia. Their very 
numbers give you an idea of the almost impossible 
task imposed upon our forces. Wellesley, in fact, 
having entered Spain and approached Talavera, 
found himself opposed to Marshal Victor, who had 
King Joseph in rear, with Marshal Sebastiani's corps 
to aid him. 

"We now arrive at the first battle of importance 
in the Peninsula campaign. Talavera is a name 
which will be borne upon the colours of many a regi- 
ment with lasting honour, for the fight was a fierce 
and desperate one, and our victory was won only 
after great losses. The battle itself was preceded 
by two engagements at least of some importance, in 
one of which 10,000 Spanish troops distinguished 
themselves by fleeing before they had come to grips 
with the enemy. 

" Following Talavera, the smallness of our numbers 
and the utter failure of the Spanish Junta to help 
with supplies and material caused Sir Arthur 
Wellesley to retire over the Tagus into Portugal 
once more, where he went into winter quarters. But 
the movement had the consequences one would have 
anticipated. The French determined upon another 



A Tight Corner 137 

invasion of Portugal, when they hoped to drive the 
British from the country, and in 1810 they came in 
three columns, under the supreme command of 
Marshal Massena, with Junot, Ney, and Regnier as 
column commanders. Lord Wellington — for he had 
now been granted that title as a reward for his con- 
spicuous services — retired in good order to the heights 
of Busaco, where a terrific conflict followed, the 
British troops successfully resisting the onslaught of 
the French columns. Then, finding his flank turned, 
Wellington retired to the lines of Torres Vedras, 
lines which he had been secretly fortifying, where 
he might, should the French come down upon him 
in overwhelming numbers, mass his men and still 
hold on to a portion of Portugal. There, in fact, he 
remained defying the enemy and covering Lisbon 
effectually. 

"Thus ended the year 1810, an eventful year in the 
history of this Peninsula War, for it saw at its termi- 
nation a thin line of British red opposed to masses 
of French troops who now held, not Spain alone, but 
even Portugal, right down to the heights of Torres 
Vedras, behind which Wellington and his men re- 
mained defiant, clinging to that promontory on which 
is situated Lisbon. In fact they were clinging 
tenaciously to the country, their fortunes seemingly 
rather worse than they had been, though a huge 
advantage had been gained, inasmuch as Napoleon 
and his hosts had learned that a few British troops 
skilfully handled were easily a match for them. Nor 



138 With Wellington in Spain 

was it likely that we would give up the conflict. The 
year 1811, the year in which we now are, began 
brilliantly. You may say that you are in the midst 
of renewed exertions on the part of that brilliant 
general who leads us; while before us there is an 
immense work to be done. Lads, we have to regain 
Portugal before we think of ousting the French from 
Spain, which will be a gigantic undertaking, with 
fighting in abundance." 

Jack and Tom pricked up their ears at the news. 
Indeed we may say that the former had till now been 
filled with that vague fear which comes to the heart 
of many and many a soldier who is sent to join his 
regiment at war. He wonders whether his own 
arrival will coincide with the defeat of the enemy, 
whether he will arrive too late to take part in the 
stirring events to which he had looked forward. 

" Then there'll be a chance," blurted out Jack, sit- 
ting up, and giving a sharp cry of pain, for in his 
eagerness he had forgotten his wound. 

" For you to teach Tom, and help him to become 
a general! Yes," laughed the naval officer, " heaps!" 

"And you think, sir, that I shall be able to get 
a commission?" asked our hero, with some amount 
of misgiving. 

"I believe that if you manage to bring us out of 
this hole, and still evade a French prison, you will 
be offered one promptly," came the gratifying reply. 
" But let me complete my task. We enter upon this 
year of grace 181 1. Let us look towards Badajoz, 



A Tight Corner 139 

on the River Guadiana, south of the Tagus. Soult 
advanced in this direction to open up communications 
with Massena, who was massed with his regiments 
on the Tagus. Wellington also advanced, and, 
leaving the strong, fortified lines of Torres Vedras, 
crossed the Guadiana, leaving Beresford with some 
7000 British troops, and a large number of Portu- 
guese, to invest Badajoz. Crossing the Tagus, 
Wellington now marched north towards Ciudad 
Rodrigo, whence Massena had taken his troops, 
and established himself between the Rivers Agueda 
and Coa, and within striking distance of Almeida, 
where was a force of the enemy. Massena advanced 
against him, and our troops at once took position 
on the heights of Fuentes d'Onoro, where a terrific 
battle was fought, resulting in a victory for us. 
The French abandoned Almeida, while Massena was 
recalled. 

"Now we turn south again to Badajoz, for the 
French had retired to Salamanca, that is, the troops 
lately engaged with Wellington. Soult had been 
reinforced, and was well on his way to relieve the 
place invested by Beresford, and, as a consequence, 
the latter was forced to raise the siege^ and though 
he could have retired he preferred to choose a 
ground for fighting and give battle. He took post 
at Albuera, knowing that Wellington was hastening 
to his help, his troops consisting of those 7000 
British, and of Spaniards and Portuguese, the former 
commanded by Blake, whose arrogance and jealousy 



140 With Wellington in Spain 

hindered the commander not a little. It disgusts one 
to have to record that many of these allies proved 
worse than useless when in face of the enemy, and 
that but for the sturdy backbone of British the battle 
would have been lost. It was, I am told, a most 
confused affair, made glorious by the tenacity and 
bulldog courage of our men in face of terrible odds, 
and with the knowledge that those who should have 
aided them, and been in the forefront, were often 
skulking in the rear. The losses on both sides were 
huge, but the battle ended in Soult retiring, while 
Beresford gathered together his almost shattered 
forces as best he could, Blake, who should have 
helped, even refusing him bearers for his wounded. 
Thereafter the siege of Badajoz was once more entered 
upon, while one must mention a brilliant little land 
cutting-out expedition, where, at Arroyo de Molinos, 
General Roland Hill broke up a force of the enemy 
under Girard, capturing men, guns, and baggage. 

"Barossa, too, is worthy of more than passing 
mention, for the battle was hardly fought by our 
men. You must understand that troops had been 
dispatched to Cadiz, where the Spaniards grudgingly 
gave them entry, and these sailed later on for Alge- 
ciras, where they effected a landing. Then, with 
some 12,000 Spaniards, under La Pena, 4000 of our 
men marched against Marshal Victor's forces. Here 
again we have the same tale of Spanish treachery, 
jealousy, and cowardice. That movement ended in 
the British troops being left almost entirely alone 



A Tight Corner 141 

to withstand the onslaught of the French legions. 
Yet, in spite of that, Barossa, where our troops 
were, saw Victor's ranks shattered, and added one 
more to the many victories gained by our gallant 
fellows in the Peninsula. 

"And now I come to the end of my tale. Owing 
to the junction of the enemy under Soult, and those 
divisions in the north, Wellington abandoned the 
siege of Badajoz, and advanced to the Tagus. Thence 
he crossed in the direction of Ciudad Rodrigo, and 
once more took up a position between the Coa and 
the Aguida, discovering the countryside utterly swept 
by the French. The latest dispatches from the Pen- 
insula have told of burned villages, of ruined home- 
steads, of starving and infuriated peasants. Detached 
parties of horse have ridden through the country, 
sweeping it clean as the French retired, and no doubt 
these fine fellows with whom we occupy this church 
have formed one of those parties. Bear in mind that 
they have merely obeyed orders. Because their 
countrymen have dealt severely with the Portuguese 
they may not have done so; and, in any case, recol- 
lect that war is a cruel game, and brings greater 
misery, perhaps, on non-combatants than upon those 
whose profession it is to fight. There! Out with 
the torch. Let's go to sleep. Who knows? to- 
morrow will make a second Wellington of our friend 
Tom, or will see us — er " 

Jack put on a nervous grin. Tom's handsome face 
assumed a stern expression. He felt that it was not 



142 With Wellington in Spain 

the time for joking, and, what was more, he felt 
that failure here would be a disgrace after the many 
brilliant battles of which Mr. Riley had been telling. 

" We'll pull out in the end, sir," he said with 
assurance. "What we've done already shall be 
done again. To-morrow — or is it to-day, for it is 
past midnight? — shall -see these Portuguese fellows 
scuttling." 

The day, when it came, might bring about such 
a happy result. But then it might not. On the face 
of it, matters were desperate, for here were a mere 
handful opposed to crowds — crowds, too, incensed 
and filled with a dull and defiant hatred, which made 
success on their part a certain death warrant for the 
defenders of the village church. 



CHAPTER VIII 

Tom changes Quarters 

Heavy drops of thunder rain, pattering upon the roof 
above and upon the stone flags that surrounded the 
front of the church, awakened Tom Clifford at early 
dawn on the morning after he had led the French 
troopers to their defensive post. Not that the rum- 
bling thunder outside nor the patter of the raindrops 
awakened him to a sense of his position. For our 
hero had been sunk in a deep sleep, which nothing 
had disturbed up till this moment. Now, however, 
the disturbance gave rise in his half- slumbering 
brain to a train of thought which was half-delicious, 
half the reverse. For Tom was back again in his 
home, beneath the shadow of that grand mulberry 
tree, with Father Thames flowing past the forecourt 
silently, swiftly, incessantly, as if ever engaged upon 
a purpose. Yes, he was beneath the hospitable and 
safe roof of Septimus John Clifford & Son, Wine 
Merchants, with Marguerite as his chum and close 
attendant, with the ever-faithful Huggins, his father's 
senior clerk, to smile indulgently upon him, and 
Septimus John Clifford himself to praise his efforts 
to acquire Portuguese and Spanish and French. 

143 



144 With Wellington in Spain 

"Heigho!" he yawned loudly, stretching his arms 
wide apart. " Beastly stuff this Portuguese and 
French and Spanish," he babbled, still half-asleep. 
" Let's go out on the river, Marguerite." 

Then a shadow crossed the horizon of this pleasant 
half-waking dream. A youth slipped into the arena 
at the far corner, a youth of olive complexion, whose 
thin limbs wi ithed and twisted incongruously, whose 
fingers twitched and plucked at moving lips, and 
whose very appearance bespoke indecision, a waver- 
ing courage, meanness, and all that that implies. It 
was Jose, Tom's cousin, and his image drew a growl 
from our hero. 

" Always interfering and getting in the way," he 
grunted peevishly. " I have to watch him like a cat 
for fear he will illtreat his sister. Was there ever 
such a fellow?" 

The train of pleasant thought was switched off at 
once, and Tom dreamed the scenes through which 
he had passed. His seizure by those rascals, his 
impressment, and what had followed. Then a second 
figure thrust itself into the arena, and swept across 
his sluggish brain. It was that of a short man, of 
middle age, prone to stoutness; clean shaven, with 
features which attracted because of the obvious power 
they displayed, features set off by a pair of wonder- 
fully steady and penetrating eyes that spoke of firm- 
ness of purpose, of ambition soaring to the heights, 
and — yes — of a relentless spirit which strove at the 
attainment of any and every object at whatever cost. 



Tom changes Quarters 145 

It was Napoleon, Napoleon Bonaparte, the one-time 
Corporal, the Little Corsican, he who had attained 
to the throne of France, and now, spurred on by a 
restless ambition, sought to see himself emperor of all 
countries, ruler of Spain through his brother, now 
known as King Joseph, King of Portugal, and even 
the Lord of England. A crashing detonation brought 
Tom to his feet with a start, wide-eyed, and very 
much awake. 

" What's that?" he demanded, scarcely able to 
believe even now that he had been dreaming. Still, 
the presence of the trooper standing sentry at the 
door, and his obvious freedom from anxiety, re- 
assured him. Ah, there was another detonation, and 
then a long-drawn-out rumble ! 

"A summer storm, monsieur," said the trooper. 
"It will be a fine day yet, and the storm will clear 
the air. It gets light rapidly, and in a little while 
we shall be able to see the pigs who have attacked 
us." 

But Tom was thinking of something else beside 
the Portuguese peasants who sought to kill the little 
band of troopers, together with himself and his Eng- 
lish companions. His thoughts suddenly turned to 
the urgent need of supplies. Water was wanted; it 
was running to waste outside. 

"Andrews!" he shouted, and at the order the stal- 
wart rifleman stumbled forward, rubbing the sleep 
from his eyes, Howeley being close behind him. In 
the dim light of the coming day they drew themselves 

(C570) 10 



146 With Wellington in Spain 

erect as if by force of habit, and saluted, Howeley 
taking time by his comrade. 

"Sir!" they answered in one voice. 

"We want water. Hunt round to find some roof 
gutter and a tub, if there is such a thing. Get us 
a store somehow; it means life or death to us. I'll 
see to other matters." 

He saw the two set off at once, and then clambered 
up the steep flight of stone steps that led to the ledge 
above the broken door of the church. Standing up- 
right there, he looked out towards the village, and 
found that he could already see the nearer houses. 
But a mist was rising, which, together with the heavy 
rain that was falling, made seeing rather difficult. 
Then, turning sharply to the left, he entered the room 
which the trooper had reported on the previous eve- 
ning. The man lay at the entrance, with a comrade 
beside him, both sunk in deep sleep. But at Tom's 
coming they rose swiftly. 

" It was too dark to explore last night," said one of 
them, "but monsieur can see now that this is not only 
a church. There is a large building attached to it, 
perhaps the house occupied by the pastor. But it is 
empty, I think, for we have heard no sounds from 
it." 

" Then we will investigate," answered Tom. " Stay 
here, one of you, while you," and he indicated the 
man who had spoken, " bring your carbine and come 
with me. It is already light enough to see where we 
are going." 



Tom changes Quarters 147 

Crossing the floor of the room, Tom found it 
lumbered with masses of stone and with builders' 
tools. It was clear, in fact, that some sort of work 
was in progress. There was an arched doorway at 
the far end that gave admission to a hall, or meet- 
ing place, from which steps led to rooms above, all 
scantily furnished. 

"The pastor's house without a doubt," said Tom. 
4 * Next thing is to see what's underneath. A larder 
crammed with food would be more to my liking than 
any amount of furniture. Here's the stairway. It's 
dark; mind how we go." 

Very carefully and silently they descended the 
stairs, and soon found themselves in a flagged pas- 
sage. Doors opened upon it, and, pushing them 
wide in turn, Tom discovered living-rooms fully fur- 
nished, though the articles within were covered with 
sheets. 

11 A regular spring cleaning," he said to the trooper, 
with a grin that set the Gallic warrior smiling 
widely. " It's clear that the pastor has gone away 
while workmen have possession of the house. But — 
my uncle! — that's a larder, and here's the kitchen." 

No one but those who have experienced it know 
the delight a soldier on service finds in the discovery 
of dainties. Rations are apt to pall after a while, and 
men long for the trifles which are commonly to be 
found upon the tables of those who lead a more peace- 
ful existence. And here was a find. The careful 
housewife of the pastor, his housekeeper, or whoever 



148 With Wellington in Spain 

saw to his material wants, had set by a store at the 
sight of which Tom's mouth watered. 

" My uncle!" he exclaimed again, running his eye 
along a row of preserves neatly bottled, and survey- 
ing a dozen hams hanging to hooks in a ceiling 
beam. " But — " and at the word his jovial face fell 
and lengthened till it was like a fiddle. " But they 
ain't ours to take — eh?" 

The trooper grinned widely. He was an old 
soldier, and though he may have had his scruples, 
a limited diet for the past few weeks, and a gnaw- 
ing at his stomach now, swept all scruples aside. 

" Monsieur then prefers to starve with plenty be- 
neath his nose?" he asked politely, drawing himself 
up and shouldering his carbine, so that the muzzle 
struck the low ceiling violently. " Parbleu! There 
is reason why we should eat these good things, 
monsieur. But for the pigs who hem us in, and for 
their hatred of us, we could step outside and buy 
what is required. That is so, monsieur?" 

" Exactly," came the crisp answer, while Tom still 
surveyed the good things hungrily. 

" But we cannot set out for the market. These 
pigs send bullets at us instead of food. That being 
so, vraiment, monsieur ', surely here comes in a law 
of nature. To live one must eat. Here, then, is the 
wherewithal to obey that law." 

The rascal grounded his weapon with a resonant 
bang, and put his nose within an inch of one of the 
hams. 



Tom changes Quarters 149 

11 Ready cooked — meant to be eaten," he gasped. 
" Monsieur will " 

Tom's courage and scruples broke down under 
such subtle temptation. Besides, here it was a case 
of necessity. He took the ham from its hook, caught 
up a bag of dried biscuit, and then gave an inquisitive 
kick to a huge barrel, getting back a dull, telling sound. 

i i Full to the bung, monsietir — the wine of the 
country. Something with which to slake our thirst, 
and so enable us to defeat the enemy." 

"Send for two of the troopers at once," said Tom. 
"Let them remove the contents of the larder to the 
room above. But, wait. Let us complete our in- 
vestigations." 

When they had at length been over the whole of 
the premises they had come to the conclusion that 
the house had at one time been a clergy house, 
and had harboured many people; for at the far end 
of the passage they found a door admitting to still 
more rooms, and then to an enormous yard, about 
which was a high wall. A pair of huge doors led 
from this beneath an archway, supporting a portion 
of what proved to be stables, in which were a couple 
of nags, while the eager trooper discovered stores of 
hay and corn in a loft adjoining. 

"And a water trough and pump in the yard," 
cried Tom, delighted at such a find. "There you 
are, water in plenty," he added, working the pump 
and sending a gushing torrent pouring from the 
ancient spout. 



150 With Wellington in Spain 

The discovery they had made was, indeed, of the 
greatest moment; but it brought this in its train: 
it compelled the leader of the defenders to make up 
his mind whether to vacate quarters which had, so 
far, proved an excellent refuge, or whether to hold 
to them, trusting to procure provisions and water 
from the clergy house so closely adjacent. It was 
characteristic of Tom, perhaps, that before the 
trooper had time to ask the question, he had come 
to a decision. 

" Listen," he said peremptorily. "The windows 
of this place all face into the yard. You saw no 
others?" 

" None: it is as monsieur describes." 

"And the wall outside the place, surrounding the 
yard, is so high that a man must use a ladder to 
ascend and descend." 

" Vraimenty monsieur; otherwise he would be 
crushed as if he were an egg." 

"Then we change quarters. Leave the ham and 
come along. Wait, though — get the key of the doors 
leading into the yard. See if you can open them." 

The trooper dashed away, and in a trice came 
back, widely grinning. 

"They were in the lock, monsieur," he reported. 
" All, in fact, was in readiness for us. It is clear 
that the Portugese expected our coming, and pre- 
pared us a welcome!" 

"Stand by the doors: open when you hear our 
men coming." 



Tom changes Quarters 151 

Tom went off at his fastest pace, and was soon 
scrambling down on to the floor of the church. A 
glance outside told him that rain was still falling, 
while an occasional clap of thunder warned him that 
the storm was still at hand. But there were figures 
over by the village; half a dozen men stood in a 
bunch, and the light was now so strong that one 
could see that they were armed. 

" Fall in," shouted Tom; and at once the men 
came tumbling forward, and lined up in front of 
him. Very rapidly, then, Tom told off half their 
number to fetch the horses. The others he again 
divided, posting three men above the doorway, four 
behind the carcass of the horse, while the rest were 
told off to carry Mr. Riley and Jack. Very rapidly 
he explained in French what he was about to do. 

"When we have the horses ready," he said, "pull 
this carcass aside, and then let those in charge lead 
the beasts down the steps and direct to the left. 
Turn sharp to the left again at the end of a wall 
and you will come to a doorway ; lead them in there. 
Now, hasten. Those fellows beyond there are merely 
waiting for the rain to cease. We shall be in clover, 
and eating a substantial breakfast, my lads — yes, for 
I have discovered a store of provisions — before the 
enemy guess what is happening." 

Soldiers are not the class of individuals to be upset 
by surprise. A constantly changing life such as a 
campaign brings accustoms them to quick and un- 
expected changes. Moreover, here they had con- 



152 With Wellington in Spain 

fidence in the young Englishman who had so 
suddenly taken command of the party. There was, 
therefore, not so much as a question. In less than 
five minutes all were ready, while Mr. Riley was 
by then halfway up the steep flight of steps leading 
to the house. Andrews stood beside the carcass of 
the horse, the perspiration streaming from him; for 
he had raced round the church and inspected every 
corner. 

" Ready, sir?" he asked. 

Tom nodded. 

" Then heave," called Andrews, tugging at one of 
the legs of the dead animal. The troopers threw 
themselves upon the carcass at once, and in a trice 
it had been dragged aside. 

" Now out with them 'ere horses," commanded 
Andrews hoarsely. " Beg pardon, sir, but I don't 
know what you're up to. This is certain though: 
there's not a drop of water in the church." 

" There's heaps where we're going," answered 
Tom laconically. "Heaps." 

"And grub, beggin' pardon again, sir?" 

"Could you eat ham, well-cooked ham, Andrews?" 
asked Tom, without a smile. 

" Ham! Bust me !" began the rifleman. 

"And preserves. Perhaps the wine of Portugal 
wouldn't be good enough for you, though. There's 
at least one barrel of it where we're going." 

Andrews' eyes shone with expectation. He mois- 
tened his lips with the tip of his tongue. "Food 



Tom changes Quarters 153 

and drink, sir," he gasped, as if the news were too 
good. " Plenty of it, too. "Why — bust me! " 

He could get no further than that expression; it 
conveyed his whole meaning. But the eyes which 
looked Tom Clifford up and down an instant later 
had, if possible, just a little more respect in them. 

"If he don't walk right off with the palm," 
spluttered the rifleman. " Here's he, a civilian — yes, 
a civilian — and he jest takes this little lot by the hand 
as you might say, and shepherds them. When 
there's trouble with the peasants, he sets about and 
gives 'em proper snuff. And when things is getting 
queer, and grub's scare, and water run clean out, 
why here he makes a man dance with news of 
hams — yes, hams he did say — and wine — why, it's 
Wellington hisself couldn't have done better!" 

Two by two the horses went clattering down the 
steps of the church and out into the open. Shouts 
came from the direction of the village, while other 
figures joined those bunched together in the rain. 
Splashes of flame and loud reports showed that shots 
were being fired; but still the procession of horses 
came from the church. When all were out, there 
were, perhaps, fifty of the enemy watching and firing, 
while others came rushing from the houses. It ap- 
peared, too, as if they expected the troopers to mount 
at once and gallop away; for horns sounded in the 
distance, while men went dashing in all directions, 
as if to warn outlying parties to close in and surround 
the troopers. Perched now on the ledge over the 



154 With Wellington in Spain 

doorway, Tom watched as the horses were led along 
beside the wall, and saw them swing round the 
corner. He waited three minutes, when a trooper 
came dashing to him through the room which was 
littered with masons* tools and implements. 

" Monsieur, all the horses are in the yard; the 
doors are shut." 

"Then let two of you take charge of the forage, 
not forgetting that it must last a week at least. Feed 
the horses and water them." 

"Mr. Riley's safe in bed in one o' the rooms 
yonder, as snug as ef he was aboard his own ship, 
sir," reported Howeley, arriving on the scene now, 
and grinning his delight. " Mr. Barwood's ditto, 
a cussin', sir, 'cos he says as he's fit fer duty." 

"Feed them," answered Tom. "You'll find the 
larder below; take charge of it, Howeley. I make 
you responsible for all it contains; but carry some- 
thing to the two officers promptly. Now, Andrews," 
he said, as that worthy came towards him, "let's 
clear the church of all our traps. There are saddle 
bags and other things to bring with us; there's the 
ammunition also." 

"Cleared, sir," reported the rifleman, delight 
showing in every feature. " I thought as you'd 
enough and too much to see to, and so I give them 
Frenchies orders. They're quick to hop, are them 
froggies. It's friends, not enemies, we ought to be. 
But the church is clear, sir; there's a dead horse left, 
and a few of the peasants as was too inquisitive." 



Tom changes Quarters 155 

"Then we'll get to breakfast," said Tom heartily. 
"You've recalled the man from the tower?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Then post one of the troopers on this ledge, and 
come along. Something to eat will put us all in a 
good temper and fit us for the trouble that's brewing. 
Those peasants don't seem yet to have gathered what 
we are up to. But, in a little while, when they have 
guessed at our move, they'll be swarming this way. 
Here we are. Across this hall and down the stairs. 
Ah, there's Howeley — well?" 

"Taking food to the orficers, sir," grinned the 
latter, appearing in the doorway of the larder with 
some fine slices of ham and a jug of wine, while a 
second plate was loaded with biscuit. " There's a 
store here, sir, as would make the whiskers of a com- 
missariat Serjeant curl, sir — so it would! There's 
ham, biscuit, jam, cheese, flour, and what not. This 
here ruction's put us into clover." 

It took perhaps half an hour for Tom's party to 
settle down in their new quarters; because, first of 
all, there were the wounded officers and the horses to 
attend to. For the former Howeley had already done 
service, so that when Tom, relieved of all immediate 
anxiety, went upstairs to them, he found his two 
comrades stretched on a pair of comfortable beds, the 
naval lieutenant brimming over with good humour, 
and Jack just swallowing his anger at the sight of the 
food which the rifleman had brought. 

" Of all the wretched bits of luck I ever struck this 



156 With Wellington in Spain 

is the worst," he declared, managing, however, to 
bury his teeth in a fine, thick slice of ham. u Here 
am I, crocked up because of a bullet fired by some 
peasant fool from a blunderbus, and you, Tom, having 
all the fun. It's wretched luck; everything's wrong. 
Why, there's not even " 

What his next grumble would have been it is diffi- 
cult to imagine, but Mr. Riley cut him short with 
loud laughter. 

" Everything's wrong, Tom, my lad," he laughed 
heartily, holding up a slice of ham as big as that held 
by Jack. " Here we are, stretched on wretchedly 
comfortable beds, when we ought to be lying on stone 
flags which are really helpful when a man wishes to 
sleep. And we've grub too — grub, when we ought 
to be without rations. But the most serious part of 
the whole affair is that while we've really quite decent 
ham to eat, fair wine to drink, and hard biscuit to 
chew, we've no mustard to go with the ham. I pro- 
test, sir! It's a real hardship." 

That set them all laughing, till the gallant lieutenant 
choked and became crimson, and put his hand to his 
side with a cry of pain. Jack sat up, his eyes shining, 
his teeth occupied with another bite. Howeley, ever 
mindful of discipline, stood rigidly at attention, his 
jaws moving from side to side as he strove to prevent 
himself from joining in the merriment. 

"Well, I'm hanged!" was all that Jack could at 
length deliver himself of. "This is clover! Have 
some, Tom?" 



Tom changes Quarters 157 

They made a merry meal there, our hero seated on 
the edge of Jack's bed; and much they enjoyed the 
fare which good fortune had provided. Howeley, 
meanwhile, with Andrews and the rest of the men 
were discussing an equally satisfying meal, the first- 
named having, at Tom's wish, taken over the supply 
department. Horses had by then been watered, and 
were now tied to rings ranged along the wall of the 
yard, munching contentedly at heaps of hay placed at 
their heads for them. 

" Sapristi! But I never saw the like before," ven- 
tured one grizzled trooper, taking to his pipe when 
he had finished his own meal, and levelling his 
remarks at Andrews. " Never before!" 

" Right!" ejaculated Andrews. " Tres bien!" for 
he had picked up an odd word or two of the language. 
" Proper sort, ain't he?" 

"Mats, he is remarkable," went on the man in his 
own language, since he knew no other. " See us yes- 
terday. We are surrounded. We are hemmed in 
by a thousand wild beasts; our captain is killed; our 
Serjeants are biting the dust. We ourselves are like 
lost sheep. And he, this youth, he leads us to the 
church, where there is nothing — nothing, mark you, 
comrade, but stone walls and floors. Now look at us! 
We live in luxury. The horses are content. This 
youth laughs with his comrades as if a Portuguese 
cut-throat did not exist, and as if the British army was 
within hearing. He is a second Bonaparte." 

It was praise of our hero, coming from the lips of 



158 With Wellington in Spain 

a Frenchman, and Andrews endorsed the remarks 
with vehemence. Not that he understood what was 
said. He gathered merely that compliments were 
flying with regard to our hero, and stanchly sup- 
ported him. 

"He's a toff, he is," he answered, stretching him- 
self at his ease, and drawing at his pipe. " A chip 
of the old block. He's jest British to the backbone, 
from the soles of his feet right up to the crown of his 
head. I'll punch the face of any as dares to say that 
I'm a liar." 

The threat was accompanied by a gleam of the eye 
that had warned enemies of the riflemen before 
then; and the Frenchman, with the quickness and 
perception of his race, must have followed closely, for 
he jerked himself nearer the rifleman in his enthu- 
siasm, gripped him by both hands, and would have 
embraced him, had not Andrews, with true British 
dislike of a scene of such a description, put him firmly 
aside. 

" None o' yer monkey tricks fer me," he called out. 
" But I'm with you all the while. Here's my hand 
on it." 

At that moment a loud report aroused the garrison. 
Tom appeared at the entrance to the courtyard, and 
at once, as if by agreement, the troopers formed line, 
and drew themselves up as if for an inspection. Tom 
emerged into the courtyard at once — for the rain had 
ceased now for some while — and slowly inspected his 
men. 



Tom changes Quarters 159 

" We've had a good breakfast," he said, with a 
smile which went far to put heart into the troopers. 
" Now we've to work for the next meal. The pea- 
sants are approaching. We must get to our stations; 
and remember, please, fire as seldom as possible. 
This siege may last a week yet, so ammunition is 
most important. An hour ago water and food were 
most in request; you have both now. Then look care- 
fully after the only other commodity that matters." 

They broke their ranks at once, and went to their 
stations, for each had been allotted one. Two men 
stood guard on the ledge above the doorway of the 
church, crouching so that those below could not see 
them. The room behind contained half a dozen more 
figures, with Andrews to command them. Else- 
where, in the room over the doorway leading into the 
courtyard were Howeley and three men, while the re- 
mainder watched from the upper windows which faced 
the yard, ready at a call to go in either direction. 

As for the enemy, they appeared in swarms, tramp- 
ing from the village, armed with every sort of weapon. 
Crouching on the ledge above the church door Tom 
watched their approach with some amount of curiosity, 
wondering what they would do, and whether they 
suspected the change which had taken place so early 
in the morning. Then he noticed a dozen men de- 
tach themselves from the mob, and move out before 
them. They halted when some fifty paces from their 
friends and laid down their weapons. Then they ad- 
vanced again till within easy speaking distance of the 



160 With Wellington in Spain 

church door. Tom at once rose to his full height, the 
sight of his figure drawing shouts from the mob in 
the background. Then there was silence. 

"We come as a deputation," said one of the little 
band who had advanced. " We come to speak to the 
Englishman." 

"I am here; what do you want?" answered our 
hero promptly. 

" We bear a message. The elders of the village 
and the leaders of the peasants again make you an 
offer. You are free to leave the place with your four 
English comrades. An escort will be allowed, and 
you will be taken to the nearest camp. You may 
carry arms and your personal possessions. Refuse, 
and you shall be slaughtered with the hated French- 
men whom we are sworn to kill." 

"Then take my answer," called Tom loudly. 
"Two of my comrades are hurt, and cannot move, so 
that we could not accept your terms. Even so, we 
would refuse. Now take warning from me again. 
We have shown you that we can fight, and we are all 
the more ready for trouble now that day has come 
and we have slept. Go to the nearest camp and send 
troops to us. The Frenchmen shall then become 
prisoners. Those are the only terms we will agree 
to." 

"Then you will not take freedom and safety for 
yourself?" asked the spokesman. 

" I will not," came the short answer. 

"Then you shall live but a little while to regret 



Tom changes Quarters 161 

such action. To-night we will hoist the heads of 
every one of you to the tower of the church. You are 
a bigger fool than I thought you." 

He turned about with his fellows and retreated. 
They picked up their arms and joined their comrades, 
when a loud discussion followed. Then once more 
the forward move was continued, Tom and his men 
watching as a mob five hundred strong bore down 
upon the building. 

"I see ladders amongst them," said Andrews of 
a sudden, peering over our hero's shoulder. "That 
looks as if they would attempt to climb the wall of the 
yard. Then they guess where we've got to." 

The next few minutes showed that the enemy were 
fully alive to the situation. They steered away from 
the door of the church, a few on the flank alone ad- 
vancing toward it. The remainder surrounded the 
yard and the house, and, a shot having been fired by 
one as a signal, all rushed in to the attack, the ladder 
bearers winning their way to the wall without diffi- 
culty, while a chosen band made an onslaught upon 
the doors which gave entrance. 



(0670) 11 



CHAPTER IX 

Hard Pressed 

" Stand back so that they cannot see you," com- 
manded Tom, as the peasants rushed madly at the 
entrance of the church that the troopers had de- 
fended so gallantly on the previous evening, and 
above which they were now stationed. " There is no 
need for us to risk their bullets yet. Let them climb, 
and then we will use our spears again and teach them 
that, if anything, we are in a stronger position." 

The advice came in time to save many a wound 
without shadow of doubt; for while two or three 
hundred of the maddened Portuguese had swarmed 
along the walls of the house, and turning the corner 
abruptly had then made a fierce onslaught on the 
gate leading into the yard, or were endeavouring to 
clamber to the top of the wall, an almost equal num- 
ber had selected the church door for their own par- 
ticular effort. They came on at the double, brandishing 
an assortment of strange weapons, weapons which, 
though they were not similar to those carried by the 
troops, and had seen many and many a summer, and, 
in fact, were wont to be used more often in the peace- 
ful employment of agriculture, were still capable of 

162 



Hard Pressed 16 



o 



giving terrible wounds, wielded as they were by men 
who seemed actually to be maddened by the sight of 
the defenders. The affair in which Tom and his 
friends found themselves so strangely and unex- 
pectedly mixed was, indeed, one of those sad exhi- 
bitions of savagery to be met with, alas! in time of 
war, when such war is accompanied by atrocities. 
Knowing something of the history of this Peninsula 
campaign, and guessing at the rest, Tom could realize 
that the Portuguese peasant had suffered severely at 
the hands of vindictive troops who had been given a 
more or less free hand. The French bore an unen- 
viable reputation for rapine, and history tells clearly 
that while the Spaniards had no very great cause of 
complaint, the Portuguese were often enough horribly 
treated. And at this time, when the French were 
slowly being forced in front of our armies towards the 
Portuguese frontier, driven in spite of their numbers 
out of a country they had sworn to hold, the atrocities 
committed were many. They did not stop at burning 
villages and ruining crops. Defenceless people were 
killed and horribly illtreated. Even the women and 
children were subjected to violence. And here was a 
direct result. One could hardly blame the peasants. 
Reprisals, terrible reprisals when the opportunity 
came, were but a natural sequence to violence. 

"I have known these brutes waylay the rearguard 
of two battalions marching north, and capture every- 
one," said a trooper who was close to Tom, craning 
his head so as to see the mob from over the edge of 



164 With Wellington in Spain 

the parapet. "Yes, monsieur, I have known them 
to capture a hundred men, and when the news reached 
us, and we, a full regiment of cavalry, galloped to the 
spot, we found every one of our brothers murdered, 
done to death by torture. Vraiment! It made our 
blood boil. It makes us fight now till there is not 
a breath left in us." 

Tom sighed. It was not often that he indulged in 
such a melancholy act; but the thing saddened him. 
In the midst of an attack it is true that he could forget 
the reasons for it, could almost forget the nationality 
of the enemy, but in his more serene moments he 
could not help but see the fact that these were but 
peasants, and that their rage and hatred were natural. 
Nevertheless, to allow them to chop himself and his 
little command to pieces because the French had 
earned reprisals was a very different matter. Self- 
preservation is one of the first laws ingrafted in us, 
and in Tom it was acutely displayed. 

"Keep lower, my friend," he warned the trooper. 
"Ah! They have rushed into the church, perhaps 
hoping that we have left a comrade or two there. 
Soon they will try the steps, and then there will be 
a hubbub. Stand back, you men with the spears; 
and recollect, no shots, no wasting ammunition. Beat 
them back with the spears or with your sabres. Now, 
I will go to see how the others fare." 

He left the faithful Andrews in charge of the party, 
and, passing into the clergy house, popped his head 
into the room occupied a little while before by Jack 



Hard Pressed 165 

and Mr. Riley. They were gone; it was evident that 
they had risen. Pushing on, he came to the win- 
dows commanding the yard, and there discovered the 
truants. 

" What's this?" he demanded somewhat curtly. 

" Disobeying orders," smiled Mr. Riley, while Jack 
looked his friend up and down for a few seconds, as if 
he resented interference, and then grinned widely. 

" Never did see such a cormorant, sir," he said, 
addressing the naval lieutenant. "Here he is; he 
gets up a row with these poor peasants, bottles us in 
bed, and expects us to stay there. Not if I know 
it!" 

Jack hopped on one leg to the far window, steadied 
himself there, and then slowly lifted a carbine which 
he had managed to secure. 

"You go along and see to the defence generally, 
lad," cried Mr. Riley, slapping our hero on the back. 
"Jack and I couldn't be expected to stay in that room 
when such an attack was being made. You leave us 
in charge of this part of the defences, and even if we 
can't do much, we can at least encourage the men 
and see that all goes well. It will leave you free to 
arrange other matters. Ah ! The beggars have man- 
aged to get to the top of the wall ; they've failed once 
at the gate." 

The attack on the latter had, in fact, been easily 
driven off; for the little room built over it projected 
a couple of feet beyond the face of the wall, and was 
provided with a wide door and a trap, while a wooden 



166 With Wellington in Spain 

crane swung outside. It was, therefore, a matter of 
no great difficulty to open the trap and fire directly- 
down upon the attackers, while Howeley, the ener- 
getic commander of the post, had already contrived 
to gather a respectable number of paving stones from 
the yard below, and with these had beaten down the 
attackers. 

" Made 'em hop mighty quick, sir," he said. 
" There must have been twenty dozen of the beggars, 
all as mad as hatters. But even mad people feel 
blows when landed on their heads. You can see 
what happened." 

Tom peeped through the trap. Down at the foot 
of the gate were three peasants prone and still, while 
two more were slowly crawling away. At a distance 
of fifty feet there was a bunch of a hundred, eyeing 
the gateway with savage looks, and discussing the 
situation hoarsely. Then some went away at a run, 
returning in less than five minutes with a long beam. 

" Going to try a battering ram," said Tom, rather 
scared at the sight. 

" We'll give 'em battering," came the reassuring 
words from the rifleman. 

" I've two men posted down in the yard with their 
carbines, and we've knocked a couple of holes in the 
gates. If we can't reach the enemy from above here, 
the boys below can manage. They've filled up their 
barrels with pebbles scraped up from between the 
paving stones. The shots will scare the peasants 
same as if they was birds." 



Hard Pressed 167 

A glance at the sturdy fellow showed that he had no 
fears with regard to his own particular defences, and, 
staying there a moment, Tom had full reason to trust 
him; for the mob outside were in such temper that 
delay was out of the question. Some fifty of their 
number began to fire at the gateway and at the trap- 
door above, while their comrades picked up the huge 
beam and advanced at a run, shouting loudly to en- 
courage one another. Crash! went the end of the 
beam against the gates, shaking them severely. Then 
came the clatter of stones. Standing well above the 
attackers, Howeley and his two troopers advanced in 
turn, elevated a paving stone, took careful aim, and 
then threw it downwards. With a shout of terror the 
attackers promptly retired. A minute later, however, 
they came forward again at a run, and on this occa- 
sion a dozen of their number bore muskets. Station- 
ing themselves in such position that they could fire 
through the open trap, they sent their bullets thud- 
ding into the ceiling of the room, making it impos- 
sible for Howeley and his men to take effective aim. 
Meanwhile the others ran in, and, picking up their 
beam, swung it backward in preparation for another 
blow. 

" Jest you keep on tossing them stones over," com- 
manded Howeley, as if the troopers could understand 
every word. " Savvy, me lads? Don't show up, but 
jest lift a stone same as this, standing well back, and 
heave it through. It'll hit something." 

It did. A howl from below, and a chorus of shouts 



1 68 With Wellington in Spain 

and cries greeted the stone, while one of the men hold- 
ing the beam fell as if struck by a poleaxe. 

" Savvy?" asked Howeley curtly. 

" Bien!" came the equally curt answer. 

" Then jest you look to it." 

Howeley went off as if he were provided with wings, 
and a moment or two later Tom heard him shouting 
to the troopers down in the yard. 

' 'Jest give 'em mustard," he bellowed. "You've 
got that, me lads? Mustard's the stuff they're want- 
ing. Let in at 'em." 

A loud roar followed his words instantly, and then 
a second. Smoke billowed up through the trap, 
while a torrent of yells and cries came from the mob. 
Tom glanced over the edge, to find the beam lying 
on the ground and the attackers in full flight, save 
for those struck down by the slugs and bullets which 
had been discharged at them. 

However, the fury of a mob is a thing to tremble 
at. The poor wretches outside came on again, bear- 
ing a ladder, and in a trice the latter was safely 
wedged in the open trap. Desperate men swarmed 
on to it, and it looked as if there would soon be a 
contest at the top. But Howeley's paving stones 
were irresistible. They swept the rungs of the 
ladder clean, and in less than a minute the ladder 
was tossed down and the frantic enemy was in full 
retreat. 

" Well done!" cried Tom, delighted at the success 
gained in this quarter, but sorry, nevertheless, for the 




GRIPPING ONE OF THE LADDERS DRAGGED IT 
ASIDE WITH ALL HIS FORCE " 



Hard Pressed 169 

peasants. " I can leave you here knowing that all 
will be well. What's that?" 

He went racing back to the windows occupied by 
Jack and the naval officer, to discover that a commo- 
tion had suddenly arisen in the yard over by the far 
containing wall. The tops of a dozen ladders could 
be seen against the skyline, perched against the out- 
side of the wall, while the broad summit of the latter 
was thickly covered with defiant peasants. They 
clustered thickly along the top, some firing their 
muskets at the figures in the window. Others had 
managed to drag up two ladders, and having dropped 
these into the yard were now swarming down. 

" Into the yard!" shouted Tom at once, leading 
the way downstairs at a run, and dashing outside 
where the horses were quartered. He was joined by 
a dozen troopers within a few seconds, who all raced 
across the yard, their sabres swinging in their hands. 
One of their number, a light horseman by the look 
of him, outdistanced his fellows, and gripping one of 
the ladders dragged it aside with all his force, and 
sent it thudding into the yard with a couple of the 
peasants upon it. But a dozen and more of the latter 
had contrived to descend the second ladder, and at 
once there began a desperate hand-to-hand contest, 
pikes and scythes being opposed to sabres. 

" Hold them, lads!" came in stentorian tones from 
Mr. Riley, in spite of his wound. " Hold them for 
a little, Tom. We'll have the other boys along in 
a jiffy." 



170 With Wellington in Spain 

Stamping with impatience because common sense 
and lack of strength told him that he himself was 
unfit to join in the melee, and, in fact, even to clamber 
down the steps, the naval lieutenant put to good 
purpose a stentorian voice trained in a service where 
lung power is required, and where the weakling is 
useless. In spite of the roar of the mob Andrews 
and Howeley heard him, and, rallying in his direction, 
went headlong down the stairs, with a number of 
their fellows with them. They arrived just in time 
to stem the tide of invasion. The ladder still re- 
maining upright, and loaded with peasants scram- 
bling to the help of their comrades, was thrown down 
by a couple of the troopers. And then, for the space 
of five minutes perhaps, there was a fierce struggle 
in the yard. The troopers at a shout from Tom 
separated themselves and formed a ring round the 
invaders, while the latter, taken aback now that they 
found themselves cut off from all help by their com- 
rades, retired towards the wall, their scythes held well 
in front of them, their eyes furtively seeking for some 
hole or corner which would give them security. 

"Hold!" cried Tom loudly, anxious to save un- 
necessary bloodshed. "You men keep your for- 
mation. Now," he went on sternly, addressing the 
Portuguese in their own tongue, "I give you a mo- 
ment in which to lay down your arms, promising 
on the word of an Englishman that you shall not 
be injured. Answer." 

With a sullen clang the peasants tossed their arms 



Hard Pressed 171 

to the pavement, and stood glowering at the troopers, 
fearful yet whether they would be murdered. 

" Form into line, two abreast," commanded Tom 
again. " Howeley, just get to your post and tell us 
if the enemy are near. I'm going to eject these 
fellows." 

He waited till there came a hail from the rifleman. 

"All clear, sir," he shouted. "Them fellers has 
had a stomachful and has cleared." 

"Then get below and make ready to open one of 
the gates. My lads," he said, addressing the troopers, 
who regarded their prisoners with no very friendly 
looks, "these men have thrown down their arms on 
my promise that they shall go unharmed. You will 
march beside them to the gate and stand about in 
case of a rally. Pick up your wounded and killed," 
he called to the peasants. "You will march straight 
across to the gate, and will pass out without attempt- 
ing violence. Any man who disobeys will be killed 
instantly. Let this be a lesson to you. Go to your 
comrades and tell them that we are well able to 
defend ourselves, and that it would be better far for 
them and all if they left us alone. Now, march." 

Looking forlorn and frightened, and regarding the 
troopers with eyes which showed even now, though 
lather cowed, their hatred of them, the peasants 
picked up their comrades, of whom a number had 
fallen, and bore them to the gate. Two minutes later 
they were gone, wending their way from the defences 
sadly, and in different spirit from that which had 



172 With Wellington in Spain 

filled them a little while before. Crash went the 
gate. Howeley threw the bar into position and 
turned the key. 

1 ' Well done!" came from the window above in 
loud tones. " Well done all of you!" 

Glancing up, Tom saw the jovial naval lieutenant 
waving eagerly to him, while close at hand was Jack's 
grinning and perspiring face. He was actually shak- 
ing a fist at our hero. 

" Lucky brute!" he growled in a voice so quaint, 
and with such queer grimaces, that even the French 
troopers could see the humour. 

" Lucky brute to be able to hop about and take 
part in all these skirmishes. " Wouldn't I give 
something to be in your shoes." 

"And right well ye'd do, sir, begging pardon," 
came from Andrews, whom the contest had worked 
up to a degree of excitement. " But it's well for us 
all that Mr. Clifford's here, begging pardon, sir." 

" Well said," shouted Mr. Riley. " Ah, I wish to 
goodness I could talk French! I'd make a speech in 
Tom's favour. I'd call for cheers." 

"Then here's three cheers fer Mr. Tom," came 
from Andrews in bellowing tones, cheers in which 
the troopers joined lustily, for they fully understood 
the gist of what was passing. 

"And now?" asked Mr. Riley, wiping the perspira- 
tion from his face. " Now, Tom, after that precious 
near squeak?" 

" Any damage done?" asked our hero at once. He 



Hard Pressed 173 

ran his eyes over the troopers, and soon discovered 
that four had been wounded, though, fortunately, 
none of the wounds were severe. 

"Then pitch those ladders up against the wall 
again and look about for a strong plank. We'll 
make a bit of a platform above, where we can post a 
few men. They'll be able to keep others of the 
peasants from trying the same game. How are things 
passing at the church door?" 

An inspection there proved that the enemy had 
retreated, though doubtless some of them were within 
the church. However, for the moment at least, the 
bulk of the mob had gone, and Tom took advantage 
of the lull to make his preparations for feeding the 
defenders. The kitchen fire was soon roaring up the 
chimney, while outside, in the yard, there was another 
blaze. A trooper, booted and spurred, and stripped 
to his shirt, bent over a huge basin perched on a 
low wooden table, and sturdily pummelled a mass of 
dough. Near at hand stood another, stripped like 
his fellow, thrusting his long moustaches upward 
toward his eyes. 

" Norn de nomme, but this is soldiering!" he was 
saying to his comrade, as he added handfuls of flour 
from an open sack. "This is what a man can call 
campaigning." 

"Eh? Ah! "the other grunted. " Mais pour quoi?" 

"Hear him!" came the astonished answer, while 
the trooper held a floury hand aloft as if to show his 
amazement. "He asks why, when the reason is 



174 With Wellington in Spain 

plain. Dites done, monfou; is it so often, then, that 
we fight under the eye and command of an English 
garconl Poof! That is the charm of the thing. 
I tell you, yesterday I said to myself: ' Pierre, you will 
be chopped to pieces before the sun comes up to- 
morrow. You and your comrades will be but mince 
meat."' 

The man kneading the dough shivered and grunted 
his disapproval. " Gently, comrade," he growled. 
" You will spoil the tart I am making. What then?" 

"What then? He asks what then? See here, 
?non brave, we have fighting, heaps of it, and it is the 
peasants — poor fools! — who are chopped to pieces. 
We have excitement and work fit for a soldier, I say, 
and, with it all, see also what we get. Ah! I smell 
meat cooking, and here is something that we have 
not seen for many a long day." 

He went clanking his spurs across to a corner 
where the watchful Howeley had deposited a huge 
jar of jam, and came staggering back with it. The 
two men took the pan from the low table, lifted the 
dough from it, and, having thickly dusted the table 
top with flour, laid their dough upon it. Then came 
the task of rolling. 

"Try that, mate," suggested Howeley, who was 
now watching the proceedings with a grin of expecta- 
tion. "Wasn't meant for the job; but beggars can't 
be choosers." 

He offered the barrel of an old firelock, the butt 
and lock of which had gone, and the trooper took 



Hard Pressed 175 

it with a flourish. Dusting it well, like the table, he 
rolled the dough with the hand of an expert, and, 
having satisfied himself that his work was nearly 
finished, he pinched a corner from the dough and 
handed it to the rifleman. 

"Try," he grunted. 

"Real fine!" answered the Cockney. "I'm wait- 
ing for this here pie to get finished." 

"Then the jam, Pierre." 

The second trooper let it fall from the jar into the 
species of basin which his comrade had now contrived 
within a shallow pan, and watched as the latter 
smoothed it down with a wooden ladle. On went 
the covering of dough, while the cook with skilled 
eye and hand marked the edges of the pie, dividing 
it into as many sections as there were defenders. 

"Now," he cried, "to the kitchen with it. If we 
are to be cut to fragments this evening, at noon we 
will at least dine like gentlemen. Take it, Pierre, 
and see that you do not get it burned. Then indeed 
would your punishment be terrible." 

Such rejoicing as there was over that meal ! Divided 
into three separate messes, the defenders ate slices 
of frizzled ham in the recesses of the room above the 
doorway of the church. Others again washed down 
the food with liberal allowances of the wine of the 
country, looking about them through the door open- 
ing above the gateway of the yard, while Jack and 
Mr. Riley held a reception in the corridor from which 
windows opened into the yard, and there discussed 



176 With Wellington in Spain 

the good things sent them with many a jest and 
laugh. Yes, the spirits of the defenders were wonder- 
fully buoyant. And why not? 

" Why be miserable while we're alive?" asked Jack, 
cramming a piece of that wonderful tart into his 
mouth ; for, even if he were wounded, Jack could still 
show a remarkably undiminished appetite. 

" First there's ham, and then there's jam," he sang, 
till another mouthful kept him silent. 

" Indeed, why not be jolly?" chimed in Mr. Riley. 
" Here we are all tight and weatherproof, as you 
might say. What's there to grumble at? But, seri- 
ously, how on earth is this matter to end? Those 
peasants have drawn off for the moment; but will 
they retire from the contest for good? Eh? Now, 
sir, what's the answer?" 

Tom flushed at being addressed in such a manner, 
and munched steadily at his food. But his deep-set 
eyes wore a far-away look which showed that he was 
thinking. 

" Eh?" asked Jack, prodding him with the prong 
of a broken fork discovered in the kitchen. " Do we 
draw off as victors, receiving well-deserved promotion 
for this — er — this — shall we say, gallant action? or 
shall we, in fact ?" 

" Be paid the compliment of appearing in the 
Gazette as ' missing'? My word, that would be hard 
luck after such a business! Now, Tom?" 

" More pie," said the latter deliberately. " Whilst 
we live we'll eat. But who can say what'll happen? 



Hard Pressed 177 

We've given those poor fellows a regular drubbing; 
but I don't believe they've done with us. I don't like 
this drawing off, and the silence we now have; it 
means mischief. I'd give a heap to know what they 
are up to." 

Once the meal was finished, and the horses' wants 
seen to, the defenders of the place occupied them- 
selves in a hundred different ways. Some cleaned 
their carbines and burnished their scabbards; others 
indulged in the luxury of a wash at the pump in the 
yard; while Tom, on whom the responsibility of 
everything depended, walked slowly from one end 
to the other of the defences. 

"I'd give a heap to be able to guess rightly what 
the enemy are up to," he said, for perhaps the tenth 
time, to Andrews, who seemed to haunt his side. 
"One sees little or nothing of them." 

" Next to nothing, sir," agreed the rifleman, with 
knitted brows. "But they ain't up to no good, I'm 
sure of it. You can see 'em come from the village 
at times and stare over here at us. Then they'll dis- 
appear again, while boys and young men scuttle 
about, and carry armfuls of something that I ain't 
sure of at this distance. There's been knocking, 
too, in the church." 

"Hum!" Tom pondered over the information. 
He listened acutely, for he was just at the edge of 
the platform above the church door. But from that 
position, indeed from any position held by the de- 
fenders, it was impossible to look into the place. 

(0 570) 12 



178 With Wellington in Spain 

Yes, there was knocking, coming from the interior 
of the church, and 

"I heard a heavy fall, as if stones had been dis- 
lodged !" he exclaimed. " Come down below with 
me, Andrews." 

They ran to the stairs, and scuttled down at their 
fastest pace. Making their way along the corridor 
they were soon at the kitchen, and then entered a 
storeroom beyond. It had been ransacked by Howe- 
ley and his helpers, and had provided an ample sup- 
ply of good things. But it was not the contents of 
the room that interested Tom; it was the wall, the 
party wall, on the far side of which was the church. 

* ' Listen, " he said. ' ' There ! " 

A glance at the rifleman's face was sufficient to 
show that he, too, had gathered the full meaning 
of those blows. 

" Can't get at us by fair means, as you might say, 
sir," he grunted, "so they're agoing to break through 
the wall. It'll be a teaser to hold 'em if they once get 
through." 

"Couldn't be done," agreed Tom. "There's not 
room enough here for more than four men. We 
should be driven back into the yard, and, of course, 
an attack would be made in other quarters. It is 
a teaser!" 

His face was drawn and stern as he retraced his 
footsteps, and stopped to discuss the situation with 
Mr. Riley. 

"Of course we could pile all the bales and boxes 



Hard Pressed 179 

we could find against this side of the wall," he said. 
" But that would not help us; the peasants would 
pull them into the church. There's no way of block- 
ing up the passage either, and the difficulty of the 
situation seems to be this: we have now another 
place to defend, and no men to spare for the work. 
I think we shall have to try a sortie." 

4 'Or retire up here and hold on to the last," said 
the naval lieutenant, his face serious. "But they'd 
smoke us out, or burn the whole place over our 
heads. I know well the temper of such men as these. 
Harmless enough as a general rule, but demons now 
that they are roused. They've suffered frightfully at 
the hands of the French, and they have made up their 
minds to retaliate in the best way they can. Well?" 

" I'll see," answered Tom shortly. Turning on his 
heel, he went off with Andrews, and clattered down 
the stairs to the yard. Yes, there was nothing for it 
but to defend the upper story of the house, or 

" Or make for the church again," suggested 
Andrews, for our hero had spoken his thoughts 
aloud. "You could clear out those fellows who 
are working there in a twinkling, carry all the grub 
and wine in — and there you are, as good as ever you 
were, and better." 

"But with a wall still," said Tom dryly. "They 
could come in here then, and knock the wall down 
just the same. We should have them pouring in 
through the church door and through this other open- 
ing. Still, there's a lot in the suggestion. Tell me, 



180 With Wellington in Spain 

can you see anyone elsewhere than in and around the 
village?" 

They had mounted to the top of the house, and 
could obtain a clear view. Both stared out in all 
directions, and kept silent for a few minutes. 

" Heaps at the village, sir," reported Andrews after 
a while. "A few here and there, watching the sur- 
roundings. No big body of them anywheres as I 
can see." 

" Nor I; let's get below." 

As if bent on a purpose, Tom led the way to the 
yard, and then dived into the stable. There were the 
two nags they had seen when first they established 
themselves in the place, contentedly munching at the 
hay with which a thoughtful trooper had provided 
them. Tom pulled a door open and entered the cart 
shed. 

1 ' Good ! " he exclaimed. ' ' Two of them — light carts 
too. Call Howeley and his men." 

The riflemen came plunging down at once, and 
stood at attention. 

"Get the carts out and the horses harnessed in," 
Tom ordered. "When that's done, load one of the 
carts with food. We shan't want water or wine, 
though you can take a small cask of the latter. Don't 
overload. Now you, my friend," he went on," ad- 
dressing one of the troopers, "hurry to the rooms 
above, and bring down a mattress and some blankets. 
Quick with it!" 

"You're going to — beg pardon, sir," began 



Hard Pressed 181 

Andrews, using his accustomed formula. "You 
ain't going to take French leave of them beauties! 
Never!" 

His smile told of his delight, and of his agreement 
with the order. 

"Take my compliments to Mr. Riley and your own 
officer, and help them both to descend," said Tom. 
"When they are safely in the cart on the mattress 
I have ordered, and armed, Andrews " 

"Yes, sir." 

"And armed with carbines, you get to the top of 
the building and look about you carefully. If all's 
clear, let me know. Then slip down to join us. 
Now, I'll collect the other men." 

Very silently and swiftly did the troopers obey his 
orders. At an earlier date they might very well have 
demurred and hesitated, delaying, perhaps, to discuss 
the matter ; for why should they give obedience to one 
who was, nominally at least, their prisoner? But 
Tom had won their confidence, and that is a great 
thing where troops are concerned. They merely 
looked their surprise when ordered to repair to the 
yard and mount their horses, while the man posted 
over the church door bared his sabre, as if deter- 
mined that no fault of his should allow a slinking 
peasant to mount secretly and discover the move- 
ment of the garrison. 

"Wait till I call you," whispered Tom. "Then 
run down to the yard and mount your horse. You 
understand?" 



182 With Wellington in Spain 

The fellow grinned at him, a grin of interest and 
friendship. 

" Parbleu! An enemy, he!" he grunted, spitting 
into the palm that gripped his sabre. "By all the 
fiends, but I, Jacques, would welcome the English 
as brothers." 

The clatter of hoofs told of moving horses, or pre- 
parations down below. Not that it was likely to dis- 
turb the enemy, for the horses moved often enough, 
particularly when being watered. Men slipped silently 
from their defensive posts and crept into the yard, 
while a couple of brawny troopers bore the injured 
Jack to the cart, smiling serenely at his angry pro- 
testations. 

" Treat me as if I were a child," he growled, as 
Tom came into hearing. " Who said I couldn't 
walk?" 

"I'll leave you behind if you're a trouble," came 
the answer. " Fiddlesticks, Jack!" 

"Or cut his diet down," laughed Mr. Riley, who 
already lay on the mattress placed on the cart. 
"That's it, my lad; cut his grub short. That'll 
make our Jack less fiery. What's up?" 

"Going for an airing," came the answer. "Now, 
men," said our hero, addressing the troopers, who 
were mounted by now. "You'll fall in on either 
side of the carts, which will be driven by two selected 
by yourselves. Spare horses will be led by others. 
If I have it reported that the coast is clear, we will 
throw the gates open and ride out. A sharp trot once 



Hard Pressed 183 

we reach the road will take us away from the village. 
After that " 

" After that, monsieur?" asked one of the men 
eagerly. 

"We will see. You are prisoners at this moment 
just as much as we are. If we get through, perhaps 
we'll call it quits. You'll ride for the army of France, 
and we for our comrades." 

That brought a grin of pleasure to the bronzed 
faces of the men. They would have cheered had not 
the need for silence been there. Instead, they picked 
up their reins, and fell in on either side of the carts, 
waiting for the signal to open the gates. Tom went 
back to the sentry he had posted over the church 
doorway. 

"All clear," was the report. "There is still 
knocking." 

"Then get to your horse and mount. I am 
following." 

Tom clambered once more into the yard, and 
looked up at the window which Andrews occupied. 

" All clear," came the gentle hail. 

"Then fall in — time we were moving." 

All were mounted within a minute, save Howeley, 
who stood at the gates. " Open," called Tom. 

"Open it is, sir," said the rifleman, throwing the 
gates wide at once. 

"Forward!" 

Steadily, and without sign of undue haste, the 
cavalcade rode from the yard into the open, leaving 



184 With Wellington in Spain 

a place which, though it had revictualled them and 
offered excellent cover, might, were they to hold it 
longer, lead to disaster. They moved away into the 
open in regular order, the carts in their midst bearing 
their wounded and their supplies with them as be- 
came good soldiers. 

"Trot!" commanded Tom, and at the word the 
troop set their horses into faster motion, Andrews 
at their head leading them off obliquely towards a 
point where the road was accessible. 

"Hear 'em!" ejaculated Jack, by no means dis- 
mayed, as a torrent of yells and cries came from the 
village and from a number of points about them. 
"They don't seem overpleased at our leaving." 



CHAPTER X 

The Great General 

Marching from the building which had given them 
shelter, Tom and his companions struck directly for 
the road that led away from the hills, Andrews, 
in advance, standing in his stirrups so as to obtain 
a better view of his surroundings. Jack watched 
operations from the mattress placed in the cart, on 
which he had been placed, a most unwilling prisoner, 
while the jovial naval lieutenant sat up, his back 
propped against the side of the cart, and surveyed 
matters generally from the standpoint of a man who 
is well satisfied with all that is happening. 

" Couldn't be better, couldn't," he observed to the 
disconsolate Jack; " and hark ye, me lad, for all your 
grousing I know that you feel the same. Tom's 
done magnificently; few would have done as well." 

It was just what might have been expected of the 
amiable, if hot-tempered, Jack that he should acquiesce 
warmly. 

"Grandly," he agreed. "Of course one wonders 
what one would have done oneself under the circum- 
stances, and it's wretchedly unlucky being winged, 
and having to look on like a child." 

185 



186 With Wellington in Spain 

" Better than being chopped to pieces at any rate," 
came the swift answer. "Besides, we're not out of 
the wood yet. We've to get away from these moun- 
tains, and there's still that narrow valley through 
which we galloped on our way to the place where 
the real attack was made. I shall be surprised if 
we get through without meeting with more of the 
peasants." 

There was always that hazard, and as Tom looked 
about him, riding at the tail of the procession, he 
was bound to admit that matters still looked gloomy. 

" There's no way out of the place but by the road," 
he said to Howeley, who rode beside him. " Of 
course we could abandon the horses and take to the 
hills, but then " 

" Wounded and stores, sir," came the respectful 
interruption. " Couldn't be done, sir." 

"Out of the question, I agree — so on we have to 
go. To turn the other way would take us back to the 
village, and then there wouldn't be any reaching the 
church or other fort as we have done. No, on we 
have to go. Those peasants are following, and I see 
scattered groups about us." 

The wretched Portuguese who had attacked the 
troop of horse had indeed taken m&ny precautions 
to prevent their prey escaping them. Not that the 
idea had occurred to them that Tom and his men 
would have the audacity to leave a place that pro- 
vided a fairly safe haven, and which in any case 
gave such shelter that more than once attack on the 



The Great General 187 

part of the peasants had failed. But, for fear of one 
of the troopers venturing to ride away for help, they 
had posted bands of their comrades round about the 
church, placing a number on the road, and causing 
others to march to that narrow part that shut in 
the wider portion of the valley, and through which 
fugitives must pass. For half an hour Andrews led 
the cavalcade forward at a smart pace. He turned 
on reaching the road, and then pushed along it, 
the troopers clattering behind him, and riding on 
either side of the carts. Suddenly his hand went 
up, bringing the procession to a halt, while Tom 
galloped up to join him. 

" A hundred of the enemy in front, sir," the rifle- 
man reported. "They seem to be blocking the road 
with a cart, and are stationed behind it." 

"While men are racing after us from the village," 
observed our hero. " Looks ugly, Andrews." 

"A hole, sir; but we've been in one as deep and 
deeper." 

"True," agreed Tom ; " and we'll climb out of this. 
Let me have a look at them for a while. We'll move 
along again at a trot till just out of musket shot. 
By then I'll have made up my mind how to treat 
them." 

He rode on beside the rifleman, his eyes fixed 
upon the enemy in front. Shouts came from the 
latter, while a number could be seen standing behind 
a cart which had been upset across the narrow road. 
At this precise point, in fact, the rugged hills on 



1 88 With Wellington in Spain 

either side, hills for which Portugal is notorious, 
converged abruptly, forming as it were a doorway 
to that end of the valley. The rocky walls ran along 
within thirty feet of one another for perhaps a hun- 
dred yards, and then suddenly broke away again, 
making the entrance to another valley. Not that 
one could see the latter, for there was a sharp bend 
in the cleft between the hills. But Tom remembered 
the surroundings. 

"Ugly place," he told Andrews. "Looks as if 
the two hills were joined at one time, and then were 
broken apart. Once through, we have a wide valley 
to cross, and then another place such as this, but 
shorter and wider. So if we manage this job we'll 
do the other. Now for skirmishers." 

He swung round on the troop, and with a sign 
drew all the men toward him. Then selecting eight 
men, whom he had noticed to be more active than 
their fellows, he spoke quickly to them, so that they 
and their comrades could hear. 

"Listen, friends," he said. "Behind us the vil- 
lagers are coming up as fast as their legs can carry 
them. In front there is this obstruction. Do as I 
order, and you will see that we shall quickly clear 
the peasants out. You eight men will divide, and 
four will go to either side. We are hardly within 
musket shot yet, so that I shall approach closer. 
When I signal, hand your reins to your comrades, 
take your carbines, and make off on to the hill. 
Clamber up and along till you outflank those fellows 



The Great General 189 

opposite; then shoot them down. We will do the 
same from the front. Understand?" 

" Out) monsieur" came in a chorus. 

"Then on we go." 

Tom led them forward at a foot pace, till bullets 
began to strike the road at his feet, and the dis- 
tance was so short between the combatants that he 
could see the enemy easily. He came to a sudden 
halt and waved his hand. Then, without wait- 
ing to watch the troopers told off for special duty, 
he called to the man driving the store cart to come 
forward. 

"Dismount," he ordered abruptly. "Now turn 
the cart and horse round. Good! Back the cart 
steadily towards the enemy. My lads, half a dozen 
of you will ride after the cart, shooting from behind 
its shelter. Better still, let three dismount. There 
will still be enough men left to lead the horses, or 
you can hitch the reins to the second cart. Yes, 
that will be better. Let the whole six dismount; 
then, with the cart to shelter you, you will be able 
to do something with these people." 

A couple of minutes before, a casual glance at the 
troopers forming the escort to the two carts would 
have shown doubt on many of the sun-burnt faces; 
for the difficulty which confronted the fugitives both 
before and behind was great. That in front seemed 
almost insuperable, and, seeing it, more than one of 
the men wondered whether, after all, this was to be 
the end of their adventure, if here the peasants would 



i go With Wellington in Spain 

hem them in and slaughter them. But Tom's brisk 
orders and the novelty of his suggestions set them 
smiling. 

" Peste! But this Englishman has brains/' grunted 
one of them, swinging himself swiftly out of his 
saddle. " These Portuguese peasants are pudding- 
headed beside him. One moment ago and I thought 
that the end was near, that I and Strasbourg would 
see one another no more. Now the path is easier 
for us — you will see these demons run." 

But that had yet to be proved. Massed behind 
the upturned cart, and already pouring shot at the 
troopers, the band of peasants hooted and shouted 
in triumph. They hardly seemed to notice the eight 
troopers who broke from the ranks of the little pro- 
cession ; for at that moment the store cart was swung 
round, and the process of slowly backing it towards 
the enemy began. That operation attracted their 
whole attention, and soon bullets were thudding 
against the barrel of wine, tearing a way into the 
midst of the hams loaded on the cart, or smashing 
the jars of preserves which the excellent padre's 
housekeeper had set aside for him. Some went to 
either side — for the peasants were not first-class shots 
— while others pelted underneath, passing between 
the legs of the horse, splashing against the road, 
and sending little spurts of dust into the eyes of the 
troopers. The latter made excellent use of the cover. 
Two were bent double beneath the cart, and already 
their carbines were cracking sharply. A third lay 



The Great General 191 

on the stores, his head shielded by a wooden box 
which was filled with sugar, while the remainder 
walked on either side of the horse, leaning outward 
and firing whenever an opportunity occurred. 

Tom called the remaining troopers about him, and 
bade them make ready for a charge. 

' i Once our fellows get on the hill above and out- 
flank them we'll gallop forward," he said. "Ride 
at the upturned cart. Swing when you get near, 
and pass in behind. Once we have those rascals 
moving we'll keep them on the run. So chase them 
right through to the valley, and there halt till we 
come up. Ah! Our boys are getting to work. 
There go their carbines." 

The attack was not one that could be made hur- 
riedly, for a horse cannot be backed at a fast pace, 
and then the ground to be covered by the men sent 
to outflank the enemy was steep and difficult. In- 
deed, had the peasants but posted a few of their own 
men on either hand they could have at once put a 
stop to such a movement. But it had never crossed 
their minds that Tom and his men would force this 
natural gateway. They imagined that they would 
come to a halt, and that presently, on the arrival of 
their comrades from the village, the troopers and 
their English friends would be cut down to a man. 
That, in fact, was what would have happened had 
they delayed. But the flanking party scrambled 
rapidly into position, while the store cart advanced 
steadily and persistently, the shots from the troopers 



192 With Wellington in Spain 

sheltering behind it causing havoc amongst the 
Portuguese. Tom allowed five minutes to elapse, and 
then, waving a sabre overhead, led Andrews and 
Howeley and the two or three troopers still remaining 
against the barricade. Cramming his heels into the 
flanks of his horse, he sent him down the road at 
breakneck speed. Swinging past the cart where 
the troopers were sheltering, he dashed at the ob- 
struction behind which the peasants stood, and, 
swinging again, burst in on the far side. Andrews 
and Howeley followed with great dash, while the 
French troopers were not a yard behind them. And 
then began a furious struggle. Men slashed desper- 
ately at them with scythes, others attempted to un- 
horse the riders, while a few dived in with the 
intention of killing the animals. But those swinging 
sabres beat them off. Already the bullets of the 
attackers had had some effect, particularly the galling 
shots of the flanking party. For a moment the issue 
hung in the balance. Then the men who had fired 
from behind the cart came up at a run, and instantly 
the peasants bolted, the three troopers and Howeley 
galloping after them and keeping them on the run. 
Perhaps two minutes later the blare of a trumpet 
was heard in front, and then the clatter of drums. 
While Tom stared at the retreating peasants, and at 
the forms of his own men, some twenty or thirty 
gaily uniformed lancers rode into view, blocking the 
far end of the pass. The long lances were lifted 
from their rests as Tom looked. The pennons 



The Great General 



193 



fluttered, and then down came the points. A second 
later an officer rode to the front of these lancers. 

" Ah!" gasped Andrews, gaping at them. 

"Mafoi!" growled one of the Frenchmen at Tom's 
elbow. 

" English — hooray, they're our boys!" came in 
high-pitched tones from the cart in which Jack and 
the naval officer were accommodated, and which had 
been driven up to the scene of the conflict. Upright 
on the mattress on which he should have been lying 
stood Jack, wobbling badly, shrieking his delight at 
the top of his voice. As for Mr. Riley, perspiration 
covered his forehead and streamed down his face. 
He held out a hand as they came nearer, signalled 
to Tom, and gripped his with a feeling there was 
no misunderstanding. 

" Gallantly done, lad!" he cried. " You've pulled 
us out of the wood. The coming of the lancers has 
nothing to do with the matter, though it'll help to 
make things comfortable. Boys, three cheers for Mr. 
Clifford!" 

They gave them with a heartiness there was no 
denying. French and English joined in the shouts 
till the rocky walls echoed back the cheers a hundred 
times. And then all became of a sudden quiet and 
sober. For those thirty lancers were followed by a 
hundred perhaps, bringing the fleeing peasants to 
a sudden halt and causing some of them to attempt 
the feat of clambering away on either hand. A 
minute later the ranks of the lancers opened, and 

(0 570) 13 



194 With Wellington in Spain 

through the open files came a number of horsemen. 
Tom found himself watching their approach with 
something akin to fear, for mounted on a magnifi- 
cent horse which led the procession was a tall officer 
of high rank without doubt, who rode through the 
muttering and beaten peasants as if they did not 
exist A stern, clean-shaven face was turned in 
Tom's direction, while the pair of deep-set eyes that 
flanked a wonderfully hooked nose peered out from 
beneath a cocked hat at the little band which our 
hero had led so successfully. 

It was Wellington without a doubt, the general 
who had led our troops so brilliantly in the Peninsula, 
who had seen fighting in many a place, and had won 
in far-off India a reputation there was no denying. 
It was the great Lord Wellington, and with him his 
chief of the staff, aides-de-camp, and other officers, 
a glittering throng, gold-braided and medalled, all 
silently observing Tom and his little party. As for 
the latter, our hero was almost too astounded even 
to think, while his followers, conscious of the rank 
of those who looked at them, and indeed, of the 
presence of Wellington himself, fell in just behind 
our hero, shouldered their weapons, and drew them- 
selves up as became good soldiers. Yes, British 
and French, at war with one another in the Penin- 
sula, but friends in this particular part of it, drew 
themselves up proudly, as men who had no cause to 
feel ashamed. Slowly a smile swept across the face 
of the general. 



The Great General 195 

"I see," he said, so that all could hear. "We 
have here a little adventure worth hearing. Who 
is in command of this party?" 

Mr. Riley pushed his way to the front, having 
clambered from the cart with difficulty. Saluting 
the general, he pointed to Tom. 

" That gentleman, sir, is in command," he said 
steadily. 

"And these?" asked the general instantly, indi- 
cating the French troopers, with a smile. 

"We were their prisoners till a few moments ago. 
We were taken at sea, landed in this neighbourhood, 
and taken off by a troop of cavalry. The peasants 
attacked us suddenly, the officers were shot down, 
and Mr. Clifford at once took command. I wish 
to report that he has behaved splendidly. He and 
the riflemen have been the life and soul of our 
party. But the troopers behaved most handsomely, 
and obeyed orders as if they were our men. It is 
a good story, sir." 

"And one we will hear," came the instant answer. 
" Er, Lieutenant " 

"Riley, sir." 

"Ah, Lieutenant, I'm pleased to meet you. We 
shall camp in this valley, and you will give me the 
pleasure of dining with me to-night and of bringing 
your comrades. Mr. Clifford, I think you said." 

The naval officer beckoned our hero forward and 
introduced him formally. Then he took the general 
to Jack's side, making him known also. As for 



196 With Wellington in Spain 

Andrews and Howeley, they were beaming in a 
moment, for Wellington did them the honour of 
shaking their hands, while smiles broke across the 
countenances of the French troopers when he halted 
before them. 

" You have an interpreter?" he asked Mr. Riley. 

"Mr. Clifford, sir." 

" Then repeat what I say, if you please, Mr. 
Clifford. Tell them I am delighted to hear that 
they have fought side by side instead of against 
us, and that they shall be well treated and their 
conduct reported to their own commanders. Tell 
them that." 

Tom promptly interpreted the words, causing the 
Frenchmen to flush with pride. 

"And now for these wretched peasants," began 
Wellington, turning to the spot where some fifty of 
the latter cowered, wondering what was to be done 
with them. "I presume it is much the same tale 
as we have had before? Reprisals attempted be- 
cause of the brutality of the French. Hundreds of 
these poor fools against a handful of armed men. 
A sudden attack and a narrow escape. Well, we'll 
sign to them to be off. There's no interpreter with 
us just now." 

" Pardon, sir," burst in Mr. Riley. " Mr. Clifford 
speaks the language." 

"What? Let me hear him." 

Blunt and abrupt in speech, there was something 
kind nevertheless in the tones of the general, and 



The Great General 



197 



at once Tom went to the Portuguese and told them 
they might depart. When he returned he found 
Wellington looking at him with strange intensity. 

" You are a civilian, sir," he asked, "and speak 
French and Portuguese?" 

"Badly, sir, I'm afraid," smiled our hero. "Also 
I can get along with Spanish." 

"Ah! And make yourself as well understood as 
in the other two languages?" 

"Better, perhaps, sir. My relatives are Spanish." 

" And you are a civilian and wish to remain one?" 

The eyes looking Tom up and down so closely 
gleamed. Did they twinkle ever so little? Did this 
general, whose name was famous throughout many 
countries, guess at the martial spirit that filled 
Tom's breast? If he did, no one could do more than 
guess the fact, for the features never altered. The 
eyes merely twinkled, and that ever so little. 

"A pity," said the general. "You would have 
made a " 

Flesh and blood could not endure such temptation. 
Here was the opportunity of his life, and Tom took it 
with open hands. 

"I'm meant for a stool in Oporto, sir," he said. 
" But I'd give a heap to earn a commission." 

"Come to dinner to-night," was the answer he 
received, while Wellington swung his horse round 
and rode on through the ranks of the French troopers. 
But he did not forget our hero, for that very evening, 
after dinner was over, and the remains of the some- 



198 With Wellington in Spain 

what frugal meal in which he was wont to indulge 
had been removed, Wellington called for candles 
with which to illuminate the headquarters tent, and 
then bade Mr. Riley tell the story of the adventure. 
Then he swung round on Tom and eyed him again 
in a manner that made the young man's heart 
sink to the depths of his boots. What wonder that 
the lad who had so bravely led the troopers should 
tremble under the gaze of Wellington. For this 
famous general was no ordinary man. The clean- 
shaven, sharply-cut features showed a determination 
that was extraordinary and which of itself attracted 
attention. His short, jerky sentences, however kindly 
meant, had a way of alarming his juniors, while the 
severity of his features, his exalted rank, the tremen- 
dous responsibilities resting on the shoulders of this 
man, made him almost awe inspiring. Tom had 
nothing to be ashamed of. Officers of senior rank 
out there in the Peninsula, and elsewhere, both be- 
fore and after this historic conflict, trembled under 
the gaze of the brilliant tactician. Then why not 
Tom? But a smile crossing the face of the general 
reassured him. 

"So you were meant for a stool in Oporto and 
found yourself a prisoner," began the general, put- 
ting down the glass from which he had just taken 
a sip of wine, "and seem to have fallen naturally 
into the life of a soldier. Let me add, too, you have 
done wonderfully well. That I can gather even with- 
out the tale which Lieutenant Riley has given me. 



The Great General 199 

You have shown discretion and sharpness, sir. The 
army needs officers with discretion, and, I am proud 
to say, has them. She needs, too, officers who are 
linguists. More than all she wants officers able to 
speak one or more of the languages essential to this 
campaign, and who have in addition the capacity 
to command men. Mr. Clifford, my greatest diffi- 
culty in this campaign is that of obtaining reliable 
information. Will you help me?" 

Help a general! Help Wellington, the great duke 
who had defeated the French now on so many occa- 
sions! The bare suggestion made Tom flush. But 
the gallant officer addressing him was serious enough. 

i \ Come," he said. "I want an officer for special 
service. He shall be posted to my staff, and his 
special work will be to gather an escort of the natives 
of Portugal or of Spain about him. He will seek 
for information as to the movements of the enemy. 
He will make sudden raids where necessary, and if 
occasion suggests it he shall even enter the camps 
of the French and gather full tidings. It is a dan- 
gerous task. It may mean wounds or death. The 
danger of imprisonment is very great. Also, if the 
duties be carried out with discretion and boldness, it 
means honour and promotion. Mr. Clifford, I am 
happy to offer you a commission as an ensign, un- 
attached at present, to date from the day when you 
were taken by the French. My next dispatch home 
shall make mention of your name and of my wishes. 
To-morrow evening general orders shall confirm this 



200 With Wellington in Spain 

offer, while the following evening shall see you pro- 
moted to lieutenant for this recent action. After- 
wards you will carry out the instructions which shall 
be handed to you. Will you accept?" 

Would he accept! Would Tom take the very thing 
for which he had longed, and become one of the 
king's officers! He jumped at the offer. His delight 
robbed him of the power of speech, so that he could 
only mumble his thanks. He retired, in fact, from 
the presence of the famous general with his head and 
brain in a whirl. 

" Hearty congratulations," cried Lieutenant Riley, 
smacking him on the back as soon as they reached 
their own quarters. " We'll tell Jack now. Pity the 
pain in his leg sent him away from the general's 
before this happened. Ha! we've news, Jack." 

The ensign had retired early from the dinner, the 
excitement and movement of the last two days having 
set up inflammation in his wound, though in the case 
of the naval officer it seemed to have actually done 
his injury good. Jack lay on a camp bed provided 
by the surgeon, blinking in the light of a candle. 

" Eh?" he asked, glancing sleepily at them. 

" Look out for squalls, my boy." 

" Why? Don't understand, sir." 

" You soon will," laughed Mr. Riley. " Tom's an 
awful martinet, and he's your senior." 

It was all true enough^ though our hero found diffi- 
culty in understanding the matter. For the very next 
evening found an announcement in General Orders. 



The Great General 201 

There was a short, flattering reference to Lieutenant 
Riley and Jack. And then the following words: 
"The commander-in-chief has pleasure in recom- 
mending that Mr. Clifford be granted a commission 
in His Majesty's forces, for his action when in tem- 
porary command of the French troopers attacked by 
Portuguese peasants. Ensign Clifford is posted to 
the headquarters staff." 

The following evening found a second announce- 
ment. " Ensign Clifford, headquarters staff, is re- 
commended for promotion for gallantry in a recent 
action." 

" My uncle!" exclaimed Jack, when he read the 
orders, " you'll be a full-blown general, Tom, before 
I'm a captain. Don't forget me, that's all. I'd look 
awfully fine in the uniform of a staff officer. " 

"A general? Why not?" Tom asked himself as 
he rolled himself in a blanket. "I'm young, young 
for the rank of lieutenant. I'm in the midst of a 
glorious campaign. And owing to the fact that I 
can speak Portuguese, French, and Spanish I'm to 
be engaged on special service. Why not a general 
one of these days?" 

He forgot to look on the other side. Forgot, with 
the usual impetuosity and carelessness of youth, to 
reckon the risks to be run in achieving such honours. 
But then Tom did not realize what was before him. 
To begin with, he reckoned without Jose de Esteros, 
his most unloving cousin, whom he imagined still 
in England. 



CHAPTER XI 

On Active Service 

A crisp, cool breeze straight from the sea swept 
through the streets of Oporto and fanned the brows 
of three horsemen who were riding in from the coun- 
try about ten in the morning some six weeks after 
the events already narrated. A brilliant autumn sun 
shed its rays far and wide, causing white walls and 
pavements to flash back shafts of light which were 
almost blinding in their intensity, while the russet 
hues of the foliage looked wonderfully bright and 
enchanting. 

" Oporto at last!" exclaimed one of the three horse- 
men, a youth dressed in the uniform of a staff officer. 
"At last!" 

"And none too soon," came from his companion, 
riding at his knee. "None too soon, Tom, my boy. 
Army rations are good enough when there's nothing 
else to be had, but give me the sight of a town now 
and again. There'll be dinners to be had, there'll 
be invitations galore to the houses of the big people, 
dances, fetes, everything you can wish for or imagine." 

Jack laughed uproariously, the happy laugh of a 
youth who is bent on pleasure, and who is ready to 
enjoy all that comes his way. For this was Jack 



On Active Service 203 

Barwood, Ensign, of the 6oth Rifles, attached for 
special service to Lieutenant Tom Clifford's com- 
mand. And the youth who looked so well in the 
uniform of a staff officer was none other than our 
hero. Respectfully in rear of them, precisely three 
horses' length behind, rode the rifleman Andrews, 
as erect as any cavalry soldier trained, his eyes 
glistening at the prospect of a rest in Oporto, a bed 
to sleep in, and all the entertainment a city promised. 

" And work," interjected Tom, when Jack had 
finished speaking. " All play and no work makes 
Jack a bad soldier. Eh?" 

Jack made reply by snatching at his sword and half- 
drawing it, while he glared at his comrade. However 
it was all fun, and only a symptom of good spirits. 
Jack was now in clover; but for that chance meeting 
with our hero and the adventure which had followed 
he would have been along with his regiment, then 
scattered by companies, and his lot would have been 
very different. Instead he was appointed for special 
service, than which there is nothing more eagerly 
sought by an officer. He was Tom's right-hand 
man, his adviser if you like — though Lieutenant Riley 
smiled satirically when that was suggested — his 
adjutant when engaged with irregulars. 

Jack had, in fact, in spite of his want of serious- 
ness, been of great service to our hero. For, with 
the help of Andrews, he had instructed him in the 
customary duties of an officer and had taught him 
more than a smattering of drill. 



204 With Wellington in Spain 

"Just enough to let you manoeuvre the irregulars 
you are to command," he had assured Tom, with a 
laugh. "You can't expect always to carry out an 
adventure like that we passed through with nothing 
but cheek to help you. Knowledge is wanted, my 
boy! I'll be the one to give it to you." 

One could hardly have imagined a worse in- 
structor; but when it came to the point Jack had 
proved an excellent fellow, and very soon, thanks 
to his tuition, Tom found himself able to drill a com- 
pany with ease, and to understand how a battalion 
could be manoeuvred. It took but a short while for 
him to grip other points particular to an army : how 
it was split up into divisions, consisting of so many 
brigades in each case, and how those brigades were 
made up of battalions, each, of course, boasting of a 
certain number of companies. As for a command, 
Tom had not been long in finding one. 

"You will endeavour to enlist Portuguese and 
Spanish irregulars." the chief of Wellington's staff 
had told him. "We leave it to you to suggest a 
plan ; but, of course, your main work will be to seek 
out information concerning the enemy." 

"I'm wondering " began Tom that very even- 
ing, when he and Jack lay beneath the same tent. 

"Eh? Don't!" came the facetious and grinning 
answer. "Don't, my boy; your brain'll not stand it." 

"Seriously, though," Tom went on, ignoring his 
friend's good-natured raillery. 

"Of course; you're always serious. Well, you're 



On Active Service 205 

wondering; and I'm wondering why you're wonder- 
ing instead of getting off to sleep. It's a beast of a 
night, raining cats and dogs, and a chap needs to 
sleep to escape the blues." 

" It would do you good to be out with our pickets 
then," cried Tom warmly, irritated by his friend. 
" I've a good mind to send you off with a message 
to " 

That brought Jack sitting upright with a jerk. 
After all, Tom was his senior, ridiculous though it 
did appear, and if he carried out such a threat, why, 
Jack must perforce obey, though such a thing as 
an order had never yet come from his friend. 

" You were wondering — yes," he jerked out 
hurriedly. 

" Whether I should ride back to that village where 
we had that fight with the peasants. I'm ordered 
to enlist irregulars. I propose having a band here 
in Portugal and one in Spain, close to the border. 
We all know that the two peoples don't agree very 
well. There are continual jealousies between them; 
but they would work together on occasions. I pro- 
pose going to that village to enlist the Portuguese 
part of my command." 

The suggestion took Jack's breath away and filled 
him with horror. 

" What! They'd tear you to pieces," he exclaimed. 
" It's madness. It's " 

"I shall ride there to-morrow," said Tom, cutting 
him short. " You can stay behind if you're nervous." 



206 With Wellington in Spain 

And off they went, with Andrews their only escort. 
Riding into the village over the heaped-up mound 
which marked the spot where the peasants had dug 
a trench to arrest the French troopers, Tom and Jack 
were greeted most respectfully. None recognized in 
the handsome staff officer the leader of the troopers, 
nor in his smart brother officer the young fellow who 
was with him, and who had barely even now re- 
covered from the wound inflicted. Tom rode direct 
to the house of the mayor, and dropped from his 
saddle. And then had followed an exciting incident. 
When he spoke, the people recognized him. Men 
rushed to the spot howling threats. Weapons ap- 
peared as if by magic, and for a while it looked as 
if, in spite of their being English, the little party 
would be cut to pieces. But here again Tom showed 
his mettle; not once did he betray concern. 

"I make no excuses," he said sternly. "What 
we did was forced on us; but I have come back to 
bury old scores and to offer a favour to you." 

His unconcern alone won him friends at once, while 
the memory of how he had treated those men who 
had descended to the courtyard and had been hemmed 
in there told in his favour. Where a minute earlier 
men had shrieked at him, they now smiled and lifted 
their caps — more than that, many were eager to do 
service. Thus it came about that within three days 
Tom had as many hundred Cacadores, or Portuguese 
irregulars, drilling close to the British army, on 
ground specially allotted to them, while within six 



On Active Service 207 

weeks he had set off for Oporto for the special pur- 
pose of arranging for a similar party of Spaniards. 

i i It's work that you can look forward to, Jack," 
he repeated, as they came to the outskirts of Oporto. 
"I haven't ridden in here for the sole purpose of 
eating big dinners and dancing with all the fairest 
girls in Oporto. I'm here on business, your busi- 
ness, the British army's business, and don't you 
forget it!" 

Jack screwed his face up as if he were disgusted. 

"But," he began, "there'll " 

"Be time for fun — perhaps," agreed Tom. " But 
business first. I shall ride direct for the house of 
Juan de Esteros and Septimus John Clifford & 
Son." 

"Of Oporto." 

"And of London — wine merchants. Don Juan's 
my uncle; I'm looking forward to the meeting. 
Wonder if he'll have news of the folks at home?" 

Men stepped aside to look at the two young 
officers, lifting their caps; city people raised a cheer 
more than once as they recognized the uniform of 
a staff officer; while often enough a handkerchief 
fluttered from some window as Tom and Jack walked 
their horses through the city. There was abundant 
evidence, in fact, of the popularity of the British; 
and had our heroes cared for entertainment, and pos- 
sessed the time, they could have spent a year passing 
from one hospitable house to another. Everyone was 
glad to see them. Everyone! — no. There was one 



208 With Wellington in Spain 

exception, though he passed unnoticed amongst the 
crowds. A face peeped out from the window of a 
hovel that was squeezed in at the corner of a square 
which Tom and Jack were just entering, while the 
limbs of the owner of that face writhed and twisted 
incessantly. A thin, weak hand played with the 
corner of a weak mouth, while a scowl of hatred 
lined a narrow forehead. The young man — for he 
was but little older than Tom — stretched out a little 
farther, so as to obtain a better view of the officers 
riding before him, and then ducked back out of sight. 

" Tom Clifford!" he hissed. " He in Oporto! Safe 
from the sea, and an officer! Ah!" 

The scowl deepened, for the moment was a bitter 
one for Jose. Yes, it was Jose de Esteros, whom we 
saw last in London, the scheming vindictive nephew 
to whom John Clifford had given a home for many 
a year, and who had rewarded his uncle after such 
a manner. It was the sneaking youth who had pro- 
cured Tom's impressment, and who had schemed and 
schemed so that, one of these days, he might become 
the head of the firm of Septimus John Clifford & Son. 
It was, in fact, the ruffian who hoped to break 
through that old tradition of the firm owned by his 
uncle, and deprive it of the son who, following 
unbroken custom, should succeed. 

"Tom Clifford!" he gasped again. "An officer 
too! How? And in Oporto! Why?" 

A guilty conscience supplied the answer promptly. 
It was for his arrest that Tom had come without a 



On Active Service 209 

doubt, and here again was added injury. Let us 
realize the position of affairs exactly. Far from being 
sorry for the rascally action he had undertaken, Jose 
vented the whole of his own displeasure on Tom's 
unconscious head. He had always been jealous of 
our hero. He hated him now because of the failure 
of the wicked scheme which should have ruined him, 
and hated him still more because retribution and dis- 
covery had come so soon. Indeed, Tom had scarcely 
reached the ship after his impressment when Huggins, 
John Clifford's faithful clerk, had unravelled the con- 
spiracy, and had compelled the ruffian who had cap- 
tured him to admit the fact. And Jose had had a 
near escape of being sent to prison ; for with the un- 
ravelling of the conspiracy came the knowledge that 
he had robbed his uncle. But this wretched youth 
was as crafty as he was sneaking. Swift to detect 
discovery, he had once more robbed his uncle and 
had departed. A ship sailing that very evening for 
Oporto took him aboard, and within a week Jose 
de Esteros had presented himself at his uncle's, at 
Don Juan de Estero's house, where the Portuguese 
branch of the famous firm of Septimus John Clifford 
& Son was established. And there he had remained 
for two months, giving it out that his cousin had 
run away from home, and that he, Jose, had been 
sent to take his place. Cleverly intercepting the 
frantic letters which John Clifford wrote, Jose kept 
up the deception till, one fine morning, the faithful 
Huggins landed and appeared at the office. Then 

(0 570) 14 



210 With Wellington in Spain 

Jose ran again and hid himself in the hovels of the 
city. It was in one of these that he was located on 
the morning of Tom's entry, engaged, one may be 
sure, in further rascally schemes which the unexpected 
arrival of his cousin at once gave zest to. 

"Tom Clifford here!" he again ejaculated, crouch- 
ing behind the window. "Then here's a chance to 
go on with the matter. Because I failed once, it 
won't be for always; I've a splendid game before 
me." 

The shaking fingers went to his thin lips again, 
while his limbs writhed and seemed to knot them- 
selves together. 

" I'll kill him!" Jose hissed, as Tom began to pass 
out of his vision. "Yes, and I'll make use of the 
information which Don Juan gave me. Ha, ha! It 
makes me smile. He took me into his confidence. 
Told me of his riches, of the wealth his son would 
have. He's my cousin too, like Tom. Why shouldn't 
I have their share from both sides of the family?" 

The pale features of this half-Spaniard wrinkled 
into a smile that was more sardonic than anything. 
The thin, writhing fingers played about the corners 
of his mouth, while the pair of bright and somewhat 
protruding eyes which a second before had been fixed 
upon the stalwart form of Andrews, then the only one 
of the three horsemen remaining visible, lost them- 
selves in a vacant gaze. In those few following 
seconds Jose saw himself powerful and rich, head of 
a prosperous old firm, a partner of the business in 



On Active Service 211 

the place of his cousin Tom, successor to his Uncle 
Juan's riches. 

Let us turn from the contemplation of a youth so 
devoid of all that was pleasant and taking — Jose was 
born with a kink, a moral kink, if you will — let us 
leave him with it and follow Tom and his comrade. 
But in doing so let us remember that though Jose 
might be weak, he was yet a force to be reckoned 
with, a force, had Tom but known it, likely enough 
to come between him and those much-cherished ambi- 
tions. Jose might easily intervene between the gallant 
and handsome staff officer whom he called cousin and 
that post in the army to which youthful good spirits 
and assurance caused him to aspire. 

"The way to the house of Septimus John Clifford 
& Son, senor" answered a man of whom Tom made 
an enquiry. "There are few in this city who do not 
know the name and the house. Pass directly on till 
you enter another square, then turn to the left, de- 
scending toward the water. The house is on the 
right, some little distance down." 

There it was at last. Jack pulled in his horse at 
the sight, while his estimation of our hero went up 
a little. For to the high and mighty Jack trade was 
trade, something at which he was rather wont to turn 
up his nose. It was purely ignorance of the world 
that made him do so; for to do him but justice the 
young ensign was no snob. And here he found him- 
self in front of an enormous range of buildings, with 
warehouses and stores running right down to the 



212 With Wellington in Spain 

water. Over the main building flew the flag of Eng- 
land, with that of Portugal close beside it, while a 
board of modest proportions announced the fact that 
this was the home of Septimus John Clifford & Son. 

Tom slid from his saddle, handed his reins over to 
Andrews, and went striding up the steps of the build- 
ing, his sword and sabretache swaying at his side. 
A very gallant figure he cut too as he entered the 
office and enquired for Don Juan de Esteros. 

" What name?" he was asked. 

" Say a British officer," he responded, and presently 
was ushered into a handsomely furnished office. A 
little man, bearing traces of obvious ill health, rose 
from a chair, and at once advanced with hand cordially 
outstretched. 

"This is an honour," he said in broken English, 
mingled with a word of Portuguese. " To what do 
I owe the visit? What can I do for you, sir? But 
surely " 

As he gripped Tom's hand he peered through his 
spectacles into his face, while a flush suddenly suffused 
his own olive complexion. 

"I am your nephew," said our hero abruptly, 
speaking Spanish and smiling at his uncle. "Very 
much at your service." 

A shout escaped Don Juan. He went to a door 
leading from the back of the room and called loudly. 
A minute later a familiar figure burst into the room 
and rushed at Tom. It was Septimus John Clifford 
himself, fatter than ever perhaps, rosy-faced, but 



On Active Service 213 

active. The meeting between father and son can be 
imagined. They gripped hands and stood staring at 
one another for perhaps five seconds. 

" Well!" at last John gasped, standing away from 
his son. "A handsome figure you cut, Tom. A 
soldier, eh?" 

"On General Lord Wellington's staff, sir." 

"And mighty well you'll do, sir," came the an- 
swer. "Mighty proud I am of you. I've heard the 
tale. It's barely thirty hours since I set foot in Por- 
tugal, and who should I meet but Lieutenant Riley, 
who was just about to embark for England. We 
dined together. He talked, sir. Yes, he made me 
feel proud. Tom, the business can still be carried on 
with one of its partners in the army. I'm proud of 
you, lad." 

Septimus John Clifford had a long tale to tell his 
son, and it was half an hour later before our hero 
recollected that he had left Jack waiting outside. By 
then he had learned all that had happened during 
his absence from England. How Jose's cruel con- 
spiracy had been discovered. How in course of time 
a report had come through the Admiralty telling of 
Tom's impressment, of the action at sea, and of his 
behaviour. And then had followed silence. The 
ship on which he should have reached Oporto failed 
to put in an appearance. Reference to the French 
failed to discover news, and John Clifford was reduced 
again to the depths of despair, imagining that Tom 
had gone to the bottom of the sea with his comrades. 



214 With Wellington in Spain 

" Then there was the case of Jose, your cousin," he 
said severely. "He acted like a hound all through, 
and but for Huggins would have done us further 
injury. Imagine the duplicity and cunning of the 
rascal. He presented himself to your uncle here as 
your successor. He wormed himself artfully into his 
regard, intercepted all our letters, and finally bolted, 
having once more stolen all that he could lay his hands 
on. The news of his vileness brought me out here, 
and contrary winds delayed me till the night before 
last. Then, and only then, did I hear of you, my 
boy, and of all that you have been doing." 

He stood away from our hero again and inspected 
him with obvious pride, while Don Juan peered 
through his spectacles at the young staff officer whom 
he called nephew. 

"A fine soldier, John," he ventured. "A good 
leader, by all accounts." 

" And come here to let us see him. What brought 
you, sir?" asked John. 

"Business," said Tom crisply. "But let me call 
in my friend and adjutant. We have business with 
Don Juan." 

The meeting with Jack was most cordial, and pre- 
sently all four were seated in the office. 

" Now," said Don Juan. 

" We came to ask for your help," began Tom. 

" If it's money you want, lad, as is only natural, 
why you shall have plenty," burst in John. 

"It's men," answered our hero. "I want to raise 



On Active Service 215 

a small force of Spaniards, and I want also a leader 
to act under my orders, on whom I can at once rely." 

It was wonderful with what enthusiasm the two 
older gentlemen received this information. Don Juan 
pulled off his glasses and then pushed them back 
again on to his nose. He got up from his seat and 
paced backwards and forwards, and later suddenly 
faced the two officers. 

" You want a command composed of Spaniards; I 
can lay my hand on such a force," he said. " Alfonso, 
my son, is now in Spain, within easy distance of 
Madrid, and, were I to command him, could raise a 
force there. But the men of the towns are not to be 
relied on. For guerrillas you could have none better 
than the mountaineers living on the frontier between 
Spain and Portugal." 

"Just so," agreed Tom promptly. "Hardier and 
braver, sir." 

"Precisely," came the answer; "and with this, 
added to their natural feelings of patriotism, they will 
be led by the son of the man on whose estate they 
work, and will have in supreme command that son's 
cousin, a British officer on the staff of no less a person 
than General Lord Wellington himself." 

The little man skipped about the room in his en- 
thusiasm, and forgot for the moment the decorum 
^usually expected of a sedate business man. He 
snapped his fingers in his glee, and winked and 
blinked at Tom and at the company generally through 
his glasses. 



216 With Wellington in Spain 

" Alfonso shall call them up and command them," 
he cried; "Tom Clifford, of the firm of Septimus 
John Clifford & Son, shall be in supreme command. 
How's that for an arrangement? No trouble about 
pay either, Tom. I'll see to that; I've abundance 
with which to pay every one of the following." 

The suggestion almost took Septimus Clifford's 
breath away. The stout little head of the old and 
extremely respectable business firm looked across at 
the jubilant little man, who for many a year had 
conducted the affairs of the firm in Portugal and 
Spain, as if he considered him mad. He gasped for 
breath, polished his bald head with a huge silk hand- 
kerchief of brilliant red colour, and blew heavily, 
puffing out his cheeks. 

"What!" he exclaimed, pointing a fat finger at 
Don Juan. "You will place a force at Tom's dis- 
posal. You will call up the men on your estate, and 
will put your only son in command." 

"Why not, sir?" Don Juan flashed out the ques- 
tion, and then smiled at his partner. "Why not? 
A pretty person you are, to be sure ! You ask in one 
breath whether I will do this thing, knowing that my 
country is overrun by France, yet in the previous 
breath you sing praises because your only son, the 
son who should represent the firm, is on Lord Wel- 
lington's staff. Moreover, you gloated horribly over 
the details of the fighting in which he took a promi- 
nent part, and which were given you by that naval 
officer." 



On Active Service 217 

A condemnatory finger was pointed at Septimus 
John Clifford. Don Juan regarded him severely for 
some moments, and then smiled and snapped his 
fingers. 

i i Come," he said; "the affairs of our business lose 
significance when compared with the dangers of this 
country and the efforts of your soldiers. Tom asks 
for Spanish irregulars; he shall have them. He asks 
for a commander; Alfonso is the lad. Eh? You 
don't dare deny it." 

Septimus did not. In his heart he was delighted, 
and, like the sensible, long-headed man he was, he 
promptly sat down to discuss ways and means. As 
for Tom and Jack, they spent three days in the city, 
and then, accompanied by a guide, set off for the 
Spanish frontier. 

"You will be met there by Alfonso," said Don 
Juan. " I have sent a man across to him, and he will 
be at the estate as soon as you are. Here is a letter 
for him, and you will find that he will give you every 
assistance, and will fall into this scheme with eagerness. " 

Some three days later found our two heroes at the 
estate belonging to Don Juan, where they were joined 
a day later by Alfonso. He rode up on a big mule, 
and dropped from his saddle at the porch of the 
house. A fine, frank young fellow he proved to be. 

"Glad to meet you, senors," he cried. "Which is 
my cousin?" 

" You speak English?" asked Tom, when the greet- 
ings were over. 



ai8 With Wellington in Spain 

" Not a word; but Portuguese, of course." 

"Then Jack must hurry up with his lessons," 
grinned Tom; for his adjutant, with that perverseness 
common to many English lads, hated languages. Too 
full, perhaps, of insular pride, he imagined that his 
own tongue should carry him everywhere, and that 
foreigners should promptly contrive to add English 
to theirs, rather than that he should be bothered to 
master any language beyond his own. A perverse- 
ness, one may call it, a perverseness that gives the 
foreigner an enormous opportunity, and in these 
days of easy transit and of broadened interests, 
is telling against the Englishman. The polyglot 
Britisher of to-morrow will advance better and farther 
than will the man of to-day who is ignorant of all 
other languages than his own. However, Jack was 
not the one to be stupid, and, indeed, for quite a 
while had been struggling with French, Portuguese, 
and Spanish. 

The four weeks which followed were busy ones for 
the three young fellows. First the men of the estate 
had to be called up, together with others living in the 
neighbourhood. 

"We want three hundred, so as to match those in 
Portugal," said Tom. "It will be as well also to 
have a reserve, who can go on training in our absence. 
I shall do the same with the men we have raised in 
Portugal, and, as it seems that the two forces are at 
this moment separated by only some fifty miles, there 
will be no need to move nearer. But we must enlist 



On Active Service 219 

the help of men living between us. It will not be 
difficult to devise signals, such as fires on the hill- 
tops, which will warn either party or will summon 
one to join the other." 

The end of the month found Alfonso's particular 
command sufficiently trained for active work. No 
large amount of drill was given them ; but they were 
able to perform simple movements, and, at Jack's 
suggestion, worked at the call of a whistle. One 
long call would see their bivouacs broken, their knap- 
sacks swung over their shoulders, and each man in 
his place in the ranks, his musket at his shoulder. 
Consisting of three hundred men, they were divided 
into companies a hundred strong, for each of which 
a reliable leader was found. Moreover, Tom had no 
fault to find with the formation when those companies 
were drawn up for inspection. 

" Smartness on parade is all very well, and good 
for discipline," he said, whereat Jack grinned his 
approval, "but it won't win engagements, and the 
engagements we are likely to be in don't require rigid 
lines. Try 'em with two long whistles." 

Alfonso had barely given the signals when the com- 
panies broke up as if by magic and re-formed at once 
into small squares, with some fifty paces between them. 

"For cavalry," said Jack, approval in his voice. 
" If they've courage, and will stand fast, cavalry will 
have little terror for them. If they break " 

"Every man would be cut to pieces, senor" said 
Alfonso. "That is a thing they know. I trust soon 



220 With Wellington in Spain 

that we may have an opportunity of testing their 
courage." 

It happened that such an opportunity came almost 
instantly, on the very morning when Tom and Jack 
were to return to Portugal. A couple of French 
squadrons burst suddenly upon the little command 
when engaged at drill, and galloped down upon 
them. For one moment there was confusion in the 
ranks; then Tom's cheery voice was heard, while 
Alfonso sounded his whistle. 

" Get to the farthest square," Tom shouted at Jack. 
"I'll take the centre with Andrews, while Alfonso 
goes to the third. Our presence will hearten the 
men." 

Clapping spurs to their horses' flanks they galloped 
to their posts, and, dismounting within each square, 
turned to face the enemy. 

" Hold your fire till I shout," commanded Tom. 
" Let those who are kneeling reserve their fire till the 
men standing above them have opened upon the 
enemy. Have no fear, boys — double that strength 
of the enemy could not harm you." 

But in spite of his assurance he had some qualms. 
Other guerrilla forces composed of Spaniards had 
thought to do well, and had faced French cavalry; 
but they had broken at the critical moment, and 
had been sabred to a man. Would these fine fellows 
follow suit, or would they stand firm? Ah! A man 
at one of the corners rose from his knees and looked 
wildly at the enemy. He dropped his musket as if 



On Active Service 221 

it had stung him, and then, doubling up as if he were 
a hare, set off from the face of the square. 

"Halt!" Tom bellowed. "You will be shot if 
you do not stop. Let the three men at the corner 
aim at him and fire if he does not return instantly." 

There came a growl from many of the men. Two 
or three looked as if they might follow the bad 
example set them. Then there was a sharp report, 
followed by the fall of the coward who had bolted 
from the square, and who had been deaf to Tom's 
orders. 

"Form up there in the corner," he commanded, 
severely. "You see what happens to a man who 
deserts his comrades. Let it be a lesson to all. 
Make ready to fire; stand firm. We shall beat them." 

Let those who have not tested the experience 
imagine what nerve it must require to stand shoulder 
to shoulder in the open and see a horde of horse and 
men galloping down upon you. The animals take 
on a stature wonderfully enlarged — they seem even 
more ferocious than their riders — sabres whirl and 
appear to stretch far in advance, so as to reach easily 
an enemy. The situation brings for the instant a 
feeling of helplessness, one calculated to disturb the 
courage of the boldest. Would Tom's little command 
and the men massed in the other squares be proof 
against such an ordeal? 

"Charge!" The loud command from the leader 
of the French squadrons sent a flood of men and 
horse madly down upon them. 



CHAPTER XII 

Guarding the By-ways 

Grouped together in three separate squares, Tom's 
Spanish command awaited the onset of the French 
horse, each man gripping the musket supplied to 
him by his British allies, and, in the case of those 
in our hero's own particular square, awaiting his 
orders before discharging the weapon. Nor had the 
lesson of the shooting of the man who had fled from 
the ranks been lost on his comrades. There may 
have been others inclined to show cowardice; but 
such a salutary example checked them. 

" Kneeling rank make ready!" shouted Tom, 
when the eyes of the oncoming troopers were visible. 
"Fire!" 

A storm of bullets sped from the square, while the 
company nearest opened on the enemy at the same 
moment. 

"Reload!" bellowed Tom, peering through the 
smoke. " Now those who are standing take aim. 
Fire!" 

The volleys rang out in rather quick succession, 
and were followed at once by the ring of ramrods. 
And all the while there came to the ear the thunder 



Guarding the By-ways 223 

of horses' hoofs and the shouts of excited men. Tom 
saw through the billowing smoke a number of dark 
figures which flashed past the square as if borne on 
a gale. A few of these same figures seemed to 
struggle against the current that bore them, and 
then, as the smoke blew aside, and one could see 
better, they appeared as individual troopers or 
officers who had reined back their horses. Then 
with loud and angry shouts they dug spurs deep 
into the flanks of the gallant beasts they rode, and, 
swinging their sabres, dashed madly at the nearest 
face of the square. 

"Ready!" shouted Tom. "Fire individually. 
Keep them at a distance." 

Once more there was a sharp fusillade; while, to 
the consternation of more than one of the men, bullets 
from the adjacent square, aimed no doubt at the 
enemy, swept overhead, narrowly missing friends. 
As for the French, foiled in this their first attempt, 
they drew off and re-formed at a distance. Tom at 
once climbed into his saddle and rode out to Alfonso's 
square. 

"Bravely done, men!" he called out, reining in 
close at hand. "I see you did some execution; but 
you must be careful next time with your bullets. 
You sent a number just over our heads. Now, 
Alfonso, draw off your men by squares till we reach 
that broken ground. If we march as we are you 
will lead the way ; Jack will come next, and my little 
lot will act as rearguard." 



224 With Wellington in Spain 

He rode across to Jack's company and congratu- 
lated them also. Then he rejoined his own men, 
while Alfonso set the whole command in motion. 
Taking care to keep the distances between the com- 
panies, the whole force marched away from the 
French, till a shout and a shrill whistle from the 
young Spaniard commanding the force caused all to 
halt. Looking over his shoulder, Tom saw that the 
Frenchmen were advancing again, and at once drew 
his own men compactly together. 

" Remember that you are acting as the rearguard, 
and bear yourselves accordingly. Obey my orders 
and you will come out of the conflict victoriously. 
Let each man wait till he gets the word to fire." 

It was as well, perhaps, that the men had had 
some previous experience of fighting; and though 
this was actually the first day on which they had 
come in conflict with the enemy, the recent charge 
of the French, and the manner in which they had 
been driven away, had heartened them wonderfully. 
Even so, this second occasion proved a greater 
ordeal for Tom's own particular company; for the 
French seemed to have decided to hurl all their 
weight on one square, with the object of defeating 
the three companies in detail. Drawing in their 
ranks now, they set their horses at Tom's square 
with an impetuous dash that elsewhere had sent 
Spaniards fleeing. Once more Tom saw the com- 
mander stand in his stirrups, fling his sabre over- 
head, and yell the command to charge. Then the 



Guarding the By-ways 225 

mass came forward at speed, looking as if they would 
ride over the square and stamp every living man there 
out of existence. Crisp and cool came Tom's orders. 

" Kneelers, fire!" he bellowed. "Now, those 
standing — reload ! " 

Very rapidly he had altered to a slight degree the 
formation of the square, throwing the corner at which 
the French attack was aimed farther outward, making 
the angle, in fact, much sharper, and so enabling 
more men on either face to take effective aim. The 
flash of the muskets was answered at once by shrieks 
and shouts, and by the neighing of horses. Men 
fell from their saddles, maddened beasts crashed to 
the ground, rolled over, and lay frantically plunging. 
Then the bulk of the enemy, hit hard by the second 
volley, swept past the square like a torrent, and 
galloped away to a distance. Tom at once stepped 
outside the square, and, with the help of a couple of 
the men, liberated a trooper who was pinned beneath 
his horse. 

"There, mon brave," he said, with a smile, "go 
to your commander and tell him not to make the 
attempt again ; these Spaniards are well able to look 
after themselves." 

To his amazement the man clutched him by the 
hand and then grinned widely. Looking closely 
into his face, beneath its thatch of ruffled hair, Tom 
recognized one of the troopers who had helped to 
defend the church, and promptly shook his hand 
eagerly. 

(C570) 15 



226 With Wellington in Spain 

"Mafoif and so soon," gasped the fellow. "See, 
monsieur, a little while ago, two months perhaps, 
you and I and the others do our best to cut the 
throats of a common enemy. Now we would cut 
one another's. Truly war is a farce, and here am 
I your prisoner, whereas you were mine but a while 
ago." 

The absurdity of the change tickled the man, and, 
though shaken by his fall, he laughed uproariously. 
Then, aided by Tom again, he clambered into the 
saddle borne by another horse resting beside its slain 
master, and rode away, thanking Tom profusely. 
Nor was that the last seen of him, for almost before 
Alfonso had put the three companies in motion again 
half a dozen Frenchmen were seen to be spurring 
towards them. One detached himself then from the 
number, and presently was seen to be the officer. 
Fearless, as were these French cavalrymen, he rode 
right up to the squares, lifting his hat as he 
came. 

"Monsieur," he began, addressing Alfonso, while 
the Spaniards in the ranks gazed at him open- 
mouthed, " have I the honour of addressing Monsieur 
Tom Clifford?" 

Alfonso at once pointed to our hero, for he under- 
stood the language. Then once more, when the 
officer had arrived at the last of the squares, he 
repeated his question. 

" At your service, Capitaine," replied Tom. 

"The Monsieur Tom Clifford who defended the 



Guarding the By-ways 227 

church against those canaille of Portuguese, and 
commanded French troopers?" 

Tom bowed. "The same," he said. "Glad if 
I was of service." 

"Then permit me to apologize for this attack," 
came the answer, while the French officer swept his 
hat from his head again and bent over the pommel 
of his saddle. "The tale of that fighting of mon- 
sieur, and of the command he took, has gone through 
the French army. Napoleon himself, the Emperor, 
has heard and commended. Monsieur, we fight with 
the British, and with these canaille of Portuguese and 
Spanish ; but we do not fight with monsieur. I have 
the honour to observe that, though I have strong 
reinforcements at hand, I shall retire, trusting that 
you will do so also. To fight with such a friend 
is not comme il faut." 

Off went the hat again. The officer saluted, while 
Tom returned the compliment. And then the officer 
was gone. They watched him ride away with his 
command, and saw some five hundred other troopers 
join him. They never renewed the attack, but, clap- 
ping spurs to their horses, rode away out of sight, 
magnanimously declining to fight against our hero. 

"And a jolly lucky thing for all of us!" declared 
Jack, when the men were back in their bivouacs, and 
had broken their ranks. "Our fellows did grandly, 
and are wonderfully heartened at their success; but 
they realize, just as we realize, that an attack by the 
whole force of cavalry would have overwhelmed us. 



228 With Wellington in Spain 

Wonder how our Portuguese fellows would have 
behaved under similar circumstances. Wish we 
had had them here and put them to the test." 

But Jack need have had no fears that the command 
generally would not soon be engaged, for that very- 
evening brought a galloper in from headquarters. 
Tom tore open the official envelope, and read the 
contents with gusto. 

"To Lieutenant T. Clifford", it went. "You will 
report at once at headquarters, and will take steps to 
concentrate your command on the frontier. This 
message is urgent." 

" Then off we go!" Tom cried eagerly. " Alfonso, 
you will march your men to the frontier to-night, and 
will bivouac wherever suitable. March at dawn again, 
till you have covered some thirty miles in all, then 
halt and wait for our signals. Jack and I will be off 
at once." 

That was the best of youth and energy. It carried 
the two young fellows away at once, with Andrews in 
attendance. Nor did they halt till darkness com- 
pelled them to do so. Rapping at the door of an 
isolated farm, they were welcomed at once, leaving 
after a refreshing sleep at the first streak of dawn. 
The following evening found them at headquarters, 
where Tom at once reported himself. 

"Ah, you have come quickly!" was his greeting 
from the chief of staff. "Now, Mr. Clifford, I will 
see if his lordship can receive you." 

In the course of a few moments our hero found 



Guarding the By-ways 229 

himself once more in the presence of the great general, 
who greeted him with a smile. 

" Been defending any more churches, or command- 
ing other Frenchmen?" he asked, with a quizzing 
smile that became downright laughter when he saw 
how Tom was blushing. "Now, confess." 

Tom had already reported the raising of the 
Spanish force, and lamely admitted that they had 
been engaged with the enemy. " We beat them off 
twice, sir," he said. "Then they received reinforce- 
ments, and matters would have been ugly." 

"Ah, would have been!" smiled the general. 
"How did they clear up, then? You had an agree- 
ment with the enemy?" 

"I met a friend," admitted our hero, with rising 
colour; "one of the troopers who helped to defend 
the church. Then the officer came forward and told 
us to move off, and declined to fight further." 

"And a gallant fellow he was, too!" laughed Well- 
ington. "However, you cannot always hope for 
such fortune, though I congratulate you on the be- 
haviour of your Spaniards. How I wish all would 
act likewise, instead of being for the most part wholly 
unreliable ! But now for a mission — it means danger." 

Tom drew himself up and saluted. "Quite so, sir," 
he said cheerfully. 

"It is a species of forlorn hope; discovery means 
death." 

"What are the orders, sir?" asked Tom respect- 
fully, never flinching. 



230 With Wellington in Spain 

" And success means much to me. I want reliable 
information as to the defences of Ciudad Rodrigo. I 
rely absolutely on the discretion of the officer I em- 
ploy, for my intention of attacking that place must 
never be guessed at. I want that information, and 
I want to learn how it is that certain of our secrets 
have reached the enemy. There, Mr. Clifford ; I give 
no orders; volunteers alone undertake the forlorn 
hope." 

"Then I volunteer now, sir," exclaimed Tom 
promptly. "Am I to make what use I like of my 
men?" 

"You are to dispose them so as to prevent anyone 
entering or leaving Ciudad Rodrigo without observa- 
tion," came the sharp answer. "Good evening, Mr. 
Clifford!" 

Our hero saluted with precision, turned about with 
the smartness that became a soldier, and hurried 
away. 

" Well?" asked Jack, all eagerness. 

" Let the men make ready for an early start. Draw 
rations and ammunition for a couple of weeks; I'll be 
back in an hour." 

Tom swung himself into his saddle and rode away 
to the outskirts of the cantonments; for the troops 
were now in winter quarters, and already the weather 
had been severe. 

"Now, how's it to be done?" he asked himself. 
"I've to get into Ciudad Rodrigo, which I know 
swarms with French soldiers, and I am to intercept 



Guarding the By-ways 231 

messages that appear to be going to the enemy. 
How's it all to be done?" 

Walking his horse well away from the vicinity of 
the troops, he thought the matter out, and returned 
to his own command just as darkness was falling. 

"Let the men eat," he said abruptly. "We will 
march when darkness has fallen, and so attract no 
attention. There may be people about watching our 
troops." 

It was two hours later when the men fell in at 
Jack's whistle. They marched from the cantonments 
in absolute silence, each man bearing rations and 
ammunition on his shoulders, while still more was 
carried in a couple of carts. Taking a track that 
led to the mountains, and being guided by one of the 
men who knew the ground intimately, the little force 
marched steadily forward and upward till they were 
well within a deep fold of the ground that entirely hid 
them from their late comrades. Not that there was 
much chance of their being seen, for it was now very 
dark. But their signals might have attracted atten- 
tion, and, if news were being taken to the enemy, 
Tom was wise enough to know that those who sent 
it must be somewhere in the vicinity of our camps. 

"We'll take every precaution to bamboozle 'em," 
he told Jack, with whom he had discussed matters. 
" They're hardly likely to notice our absence from the 
camp ; for 4000 Portuguese irregulars were encamped 
beside us, and drew rations with us. Then, if they 
haven't seen us move off, and don't see our signals, 



232 With Wellington in Spain 

we shall be in a position to lay a snare to catch any 
who may be making for Ciudad Rodrigo. Now for 
a couple of fires." 

Two flares were lighted almost at once, and, having 
been allowed to blaze for a few minutes, were stamped 
out again. Almost immediately an answering fire 
was seen right away above them. An hour or more 
later Alfonso put in an appearance with his command. 

" We'll march directly up the valley, the Portu- 
guese going first," said Tom. "Then we'll camp for 
the night. To-morrow we can introduce the men and 
make our plans for the future." 

"What's the work?" asked Jack, whose interest 
and curiosity were keen. "Special orders?" 

"Yes, there's news getting into Ciudad Rodrigo." 

" Ah ! Not surprised. We've heaps of loafers always 
round our camps, and a sly fellow might easily pick 
up information and take it to the enemy. You'll hunt 
round Ciudad Rodrigo, I suppose?" 

" No," declared Tom abruptly. " I shall watch the 
outskirts of our camps. If a man leaves, he will be 
followed. If he comes in the direction of Ciudad 
Rodrigo, the information will be signalled to you. 
You will arrest and search him." 

"I? You mean that you will," exclaimed Jack, for 
he was ever ready to concede the post of leader to his 
chum. 

"No; you." 

" But," began Jack, "why not you?" 

" Because I shall be in Ciudad Rodrigo." 



Guarding the By-ways 233 

"In the town, behind the defences! That's risky, 
ain't it?" asked his friend. 

"Orders," declared Tom light-heartedly. "I'm 
telling them to you in confidence. See here, Jack. 
Wellington has given us a nice little job, and we've 
to pull ourselves together and carry it out; informa- 
tion of our troops' movements is leaking out, and 
Wellington wishes to keep them very secret; for he 
intends to take Ciudad Rodrigo by assault. We've 
to cloak his movements by capturing all talebearers, 
and we've to get inside knowledge of the defences of 
Ciudad. Got it?" 

Jack had. He pondered for a little while, and then 
approached the subject again. " How'll you fix the 
men?" he asked. "It's cold; there's been snow 
already." 

" Then we must find quarters for all. I shall divide 
the force up, putting a hundred Portuguese in this 
neighbourhood, a hundred farther on, and the re- 
mainder spread away on the mountains, so that every 
pass is under observation. It will take a few days to 
fix matters, and then we shall really begin our work." 

They lay down in their blankets that night, the two 
halves of the force, Portuguese and Spanish, being 
divided. Early on the following morning, when a 
meal had been cooked and eaten, the men were 
formed up, the two separate bands facing one another. 
Tom harangued them, telling the Portuguese how the 
Spanish half had conducted itself under the fire of 
the enemy, and how they had resisted an attack by 



234 With Wellington in Spain 

cavalry. To the Spaniards he spoke of the hardi- 
hood of the Portuguese, and their courage, though 
he omitted to mention the circumstances of the attack 
they had made on the church. Then he spoke of 
their mutual interests, and having called upon all to 
do their best, he dismissed the men for half an 
hour. 

"Let them get together and compare notes," he 
said. 

"It will make fast friends of them," agreed Al- 
fonso. " You must remember that my men live 
right on the frontier, and yours also, so that they 
all speak a patois which is understood by the people 
in these parts. Let them talk. The fact that they 
have a British staff officer in command, with another 
to help him, and two British riflemen, will help not 
a little." 

When the force moved off again there was no 
doubt that the men had fraternized wonderfully. To 
look at them there was very little difference in their 
appearance. All were well-built, hardy fellows, with 
fresh complexions, showing that they were accustomed 
to an open-air life. Short for the most part, they dis- 
played wonderful activity, and were evidently at home 
in the mountains. It was three hours later when 
Tom halted the force, and let the men fall out to eat 
and rest. 

"Here's where we place the first lot of our out- 
posts," he told Jack, pointing to some cottages lying 
under the brow of a rise. "Those are deserted, and 



Guarding the By-ways 235 

will shelter our men well. Andrews will stay with 
them; for he has learned a little of the language. We 
will give them a share of the rations, and then push 
on. I have already given Andrews his orders. He 
is to post his men, half at a time, on every height 
commanding the roads from our camps, is to capture 
all who come this way, and, if a number are seen, is 
to signal by lighting a fire." 

"And what happens when he's captured a man?" 
asked Jack. 

" He sends him along to us." 

"But you said 'you' a little while ago," Jack re- 
minded him, with a grin. 

"Us at first, you afterwards," said Tom ambigu- 
ously. i ' I dare say that puzzles you ; wait till we 
catch a fellow and you'll see." 

Three days later saw the whole of the force dis- 
posed, and when Tom and his two lieutenants re- 
viewed the posts, they could not help but agree that 
they controlled all the roads communicating with 
Ciudad Rodrigo, and likely to be used by anyone 
leaving Wellington's camp. It was a week later 
when news reached our hero that a capture had been 
made. He was then within sight of Ciudad Rodrigo, 
hidden on a height from which he could look down 
at the fortress and town. Some six hours later 
Andrews arrived, having left his brother rifleman in 
charge of the post. 

" Well?" asked Tom, as the man drew himself up 
and saluted. 



236 With Wellington in Spain 

" Captured a ruffian coming through our way early 
this morning, sir. 

" And searched him?" 

" Found these papers on him, sir. He did his 
best to get away, and when he saw we were bound 
to capture him, tried to destroy the papers; but our 
lads were too quick for him." 

" Where is he?" asked Tom. " Bring him for- 
ward." 

A rough, broad-shouldered individual was ushered 
into his presence between an escort of four of the 
Portuguese, and stood scowling at Tom. 

" Portuguese?" asked our hero. 

"No." 

"Then Spanish?" 

" No," came again the curt answer. 

"Then what?" 

"Spanish father, Portuguese mother. By what 
right do your men interfere with me?" 

Tom ignored the question, and carefully investi- 
gated the papers Andrews had placed in his hands. 
There were a couple of rough maps, showing the 
British cantonments occupied by Wellington's troops, 
and a few lines of writing, drafted in a clear, good 
hand, and telling of the suspicion of the writer that 
Wellington was preparing to attack Ciudad Rodrigo. 

"You have been then to Ciudad before?" asked 
Tom severely. 

"That's my affair," came the rough answer. 

" And you call yourself a patriot? Who were these 



Guarding the By-ways 237 

papers to be taken to? There is no address on the 
envelope." 

A smile of triumph, and then a scowl, crossed the 
ill-favoured face of the man. It was obvious that he 
meant to give no information. 

"Take him away," commanded Tom. "Mr. Bar- 
wood, put the prisoner up against that rock, and 
shoot him five minutes from now. Choose four of 
the men to carry out the sentence. There is not one 
who will not willingly obey and help to shoot a 
traitor." 

He repeated the words in English to the astonished 
Jack, and then turned away abruptly. But a moment 
later a cry brought him facing round again, to dis- 
cover the renegade on his knees, begging for his 
life. 

"■I will tell all," he wailed. 

"Then speak, and take care that it is the truth, for 
you will be kept here for a while, and shot if we have 
doubts. Now, you have been to Ciudad Rodrigo 
before?" 

The man shook his head emphatically. 

" For whom were the papers intended?" 

"For the general in command. But I was to 
deliver them to one who lives at a cabaret in the 
street of St. Angelo, and who would answer to the 
name of Francisco." 

"And then?" 

"I was to seek a lodging at the far end of the 
town, wait for a letter, and then return." 



238 With Wellington in Spain 

"To whom?" asked Tom curtly, while the men 
about strained their ears to hear what was passing. 

"To my employer, senor." 

"And he is ?" 

"One whom I never met before. He lodges in 
a house in Oporto, and there I met him. His name 
I never heard. He is young and thin and dark. 
That is all I can tell you." 

Tom stood thinking for a while, and then walked 
to a distance with Jack Barwood. 

" Well?" he asked. " What would you do?" 

"Send along to Oporto," declared his adjutant. 
"Get hold of this employer." 

"And what about these papers?" asked Tom. 

" I'd dispatch them to headquarters." 

"Quite so; and then?" 

" Then?" asked Jack, a little troubled. " Then I'd 
set the watch again and see if I could catch others." 

"Good!" agreed Tom. "We'll do all that. Al- 
fonso shall take a party to Oporto, carrying this 
fellow with him, with orders to scare him if he shows 
signs of lying. You shall send the papers to Well- 
ington, with an explanation I shall write, and then 
I " 

"Yes?" gasped Jack, conscious that his friend had 
all the while been leading up to the declaration of 
some plan. 

" I shall borrow this fellow's clothing. I'll write 
up a yarn which will do just as well as his papers, 
and then I'll seek out the owner of the cabaret in the 



Guarding the By-ways 239 

street of St. Angelo, the man known as Francisco, 
and there discover all that there is to be learned with 
regard to Ciudad Rodrigo." 

It was a daring scheme to attempt; but then Tom 
had his orders. The following morning, in fact, 
found him stripped of his handsome staff uniform, 
and dressed in the clothes of their captive. He bade 
adieu to his comrades, went off down the height, and 
some two hours later was seen accosting the outposts 
placed by the French about the fortress. Jack and 
his friends, watching from above, saw their friend and 
leader disappear within a wide gateway. Thereafter, 
though they strained their eyes, there was not so much 
as a sign of him. He was gone altogether, swallowed 
by the massive defences of Ciudad Rodrigo, cut off 
from his friends, and surrounded by enemies who, 
if they discovered his disguise, would treat him as a 
spy and promptly shoot him. 



CHAPTER XIII 

Ciudad Rodrigo 

" Halt! Stand fast and give the countersign !" 

A huge French grenadier barred the road where it 
passed in beneath the frowning doorway of the for- 
tress of Ciudad Rodrigo, and with his long bayonet 
dropped to the level of the chest ot the intruder called 
upon him brusquely and in no uncertain tones to halt. 
"The countersign," he demanded once more, per- 
emptorily, the point of his weapon actually entangled 
in the stranger's clothing, while the look on the 
soldier's face seemed to say that he would willingly 
make a little error and transfix him. As for the latter, 
he was a well -grown, active, young fellow, with 
tousled hair dangling over his eyes, a general appear- 
ance of untidiness, and a something about him which 
denoted neither the genuine Spaniard nor the genuine 
Portuguese. 

"Son of a dog no doubt," growled the sentry. 
"Neither fish nor flesh, nor yet good herring. A 
peste on these loafers about this place. Poof! If I 
were here I should be fighting, instead of swilling 
wine and idling as do these men. Well?" he called 
loudly. "The word?" 

240 



Ciudad Rodrigo 241 

Tom looked up at the man from beneath the drawn- 
down brim of the tattered hat he had borrowed from 
the news bearer his men had captured. " Orleans", 
he murmured, putting into the word the queer accent 
to be expected of a stranger. 

"Ha! Then enter; but whither? The dog may- 
be a spy of the British," the man growled, and at the 
recollection, and the sudden suspicion, once more 
elevated the point of his weapon, and cleverly con- 
trived to catch it in the lapel of Tom's coat. 

"The street of St. Angelo," answered our hero 
under his breath, as if he were imparting a secret. 
"To one Francisco, with news, you understand?" 

Apparently the man had learned some Spanish 
since the invasion of the Peninsula, and contrived 
to understand the words. 

" Then enter," he cried. " Enter." 

Down came the butt of his weapon with a clatter 
on the stones, while Tom passed on meekly. In- 
deed he was anxious to give the impression of one 
with little courage, merely a tale bearer. Also, he 
was in a hurry to get away from the Frenchman. 
For always he was dogged with the fear that he 
might by some evil chance come face to face with 
one of the troopers with whom he had fought the 
Portuguese peasants. However, the grenadier was 
not one of them. Tom left him standing at ease, and 
at once clambered up the steep way leading to the 
town. As for the grenadier, he watched the re- 
treating figure of the stranger reflectively. 

(0 570) 16 



242 With Wellington in Spain 

"A Spaniard? No," he told himself. "A Por- 
tuguese? Parbleu! Impossible! He has not the 
colouring. Then what? A mixture? No. Then — 
English!" 

The very suspicion set him marching to and fro 
with energy. His musket flew to his shoulder, and 
then came down again with a bump. The grenadier 
was consumed with doubt for some few moments, 
and then with suspicion that soon became certainty. 
He called loudly for the serjeant of the guard, made 
his report, and was promptly relieved. A few minutes 
later he was hurrying in the direction Tom had taken, 
with three of his grenadier comrades to assist him. 

" A fairly tall, broad-shouldered ragamuffin," he ex- 
plained. "One with the appearance and manner of 
a coward at first sight, and with the frame and body 
of an athlete, and the eyes of one who has courage in 
abundance. Seek for him; if he fails to surrender on 
demand, shoot!" 

It was a very pleasant prospect for Tom, and no 
doubt, had he known what was happening, he would 
have hastened his footsteps, and would have promptly 
taken measures to ensure his escape. But Tom had 
important work to do, work which required time and 
patience. First, there was the envelope to deliver, 
with the fictitious plans he had drawn, and the 
wording that told not of Wellington's anticipated 
attempt of Ciudad Rodrigo, but of his retirement 
towards Lisbon. In fact, Tom had fabricated a yarn 
which, if the governor of this fortress believed it, 



Ciudad Rodrigo 243 

would throw dust in his eyes and aid Wellington's 
plans enormously. Then there was a tour to be made 
of the defences, the guns to be located and counted, 
and any special works recorded on the plan he must 
draw. Our hero was, indeed, engaged on recogniz- 
ance work of the utmost importance, work hardly 
likely to be facilitated by the three grenadiers who 
were making so hurriedly after him. 

"The street of St. Angelo," he repeated to him- 
self; "one Francisco." 

Selecting a lad who was playing in the street, he 
enquired the way of him. 

" Up there to the right, then to the left sharp. It's 
the last street in that direction," he was told, the boy 
evidently seeing nothing strange about him. Tom 
promptly took the direction indicated, and, following 
the turnings in succession, came to the street he was 
searching for. 

"Francisco lives at a cabaret at the corner," he 
reminded himself. "There it is: * Michael Fran- 
cisco, dealer in wine.' And there's the fellow him- 
self." 

A beetle-browed, untidy individual was sitting just 
within the entrance to the cabaret, warming his toes 
at a charcoal brazier. From a room within came the 
sound of voices, the tinkle of a stringed instrument, 
and the chink of glasses, while from a spot still farther 
away, perhaps in the back regions of the dwelling, 
the voice of a scolding woman could be heard, drown- 
ing the other sounds completely for some few seconds. 



244 With Wellington in Spain 

Tom looked cautiously about him, and then saun- 
tered up to the door. 

" One Francisco?" he asked. " Of the street of St. 
Angelo?" 

"The same," came the immediate answer, while 
the proprietor of the place looked him over sharply. 
"And you?" 

"Someone with a message from Oporto for you to 
deal with. Here it is." 

An exclamation of delight broke from the man, who 
at once seized the envelope. "You have orders to 
wait, then, my friend?" he asked. 

"I have; I shall seek a lodging down the street. 
To-night I will come for the answer." 

"Then step inside now and take a glass," the man 
said promptly. "To-night there shall be an answer. 
Come, a glass. Ho there, wine!" he shouted. 

The scolding voice ceased of a sudden, while a 
woman appeared at the door of a room located at the 
end of the passage. Some five minutes later she 
brought a tray containing glasses, and poured wine 
into two of them. 

" To our success!" cried Francisco, lifting his glass 
and speaking significantly. 

"And may you get what every traitor deserves," 
thought Tom as he lifted his own allowance. "To 
you!" he cried, tipping the glass upward. 

It was just at that moment that, glancing through 
the bottom of his upturned glass, and aslant through 
the open door of the cabaret, which being set at the 



Ciudad Rodrigo 245 

corner of the street commanded a long view of it, our 
hero caught sight of four French grenadiers hastening 
along it. At their head was one who was almost a 
giant! His flowing moustaches and the breadth of 
his shoulders seemed strangely familiar, while a 
second look convinced Tom that it was the very man 
who had stood sentry at the gate and had admitted 
him. 

* ' Strange ! " he thought. " They are the first 
soldiers I have seen in this direction, though there 
are others, of course. There are two in this cabaret 
at the moment, for I caught a glimpse of them. Ah, 
the big man is pointing! They are all hurrying — 
this looks ugly." 

It was one of those situations where one engaged 
in dangerous work such as our hero had undertaken 
might very well be captured before he was more than 
aware of his danger. Hesitation might mean his 
downfall. On the other hand, if he were mistaken in 
the designs of the approaching grenadiers, and they 
had no concern with him, then action at the moment 
might lead to suspicion on the part of Francisco, 
which would be almost as bad. Tom screwed up his 
eyes and looked closely at the oncomers; then, seeing 
them turn towards the cabaret, he asked a question in 
the most unconcerned voice possible. 

"Tell me," he said, "I may rest in here, upstairs 
where there is less noise? I have come fast from 
Oporto, and feel too tired even to seek for a lodging." 

"Then pass up the stairs," came the answer, while 



246 With Wellington in Spain 

the innkeeper deposited his empty glass on the tray 
with a bang. " Pass upstairs, friend, and rest in the 
room overhead. In an hour perhaps, when I am free, 
I will go to the governor. There is no haste in these 
matters. Go now. I will attend to the customers 
who are now coming." 

He turned to greet the grenadiers, now within ten 
yards of the door, while Tom lounged to the stairs, 
and then darted up them. At the top he stood and 
listened for a few moments. 

" Ha!" he heard the big grenadier exclaim. " This 
is Francisco. Now, my friend, you have a caller. 
Where is he?" 

That was enough for Tom. It was clear that he 
was suspected, and equally clear that if he did not 
hasten he would be captured within a few minutes. 
But how was he to get away? He opened the nearest 
door and thrust his head into the room to which it 
gave admittance. It was empty; there was nothing 
there to help him. He went then to the next, and 
peered into it noiselessly. There was nothing there 
either " Ah!" Tom gave vent to a startled excla- 
mation, for a man lay full length on a bed — a man 
who seemed to be sunk in the depths of sleep. Who 
was he? 

He was across the room in an instant, bending 
over the man. Yes, he was sunk in a profound 
slumber, and, if Tom could have guessed it, Fran- 
cisco's wine had something to say to the fellow's 
drowsiness. But whatever the cause Tom's attention 



Ciudad Rodrigo 247 

was instantly switched in another direction, for it 
appeared that the fellow had dragged off his clothing, 
and there, thrown carelessly on the floor, was the 
uniform of a French soldier. 

" I think " began our hero, cogitating deeply. 

" Ah! they're coming upstairs, that innkeeper and 
the grenadiers. I must chance it." 

He stooped over the clothing, dragged the red 
breeches over his own, pulled them tight at the waist, 
and threw on the long-tailed surcoat so loved by the 
French. Round went the belt, hitching with a click, 
while the hat followed in a twinkling. Then he sat 
down, dragged off his boots, and was in the act of 
pulling on one belonging to the sleeper, when he 
heard footsteps on the landing outside and gruff 
voices. 

" They'll look in here, and see that fellow asleep," 
he told himself. " No they won't, if I'm sharp. 
How's that?" 

Very swiftly he sprang towards the bed and dragged 
a curtain into position, for the latter hung from a 
horizontal iron rod, and was intended to shut off a 
cubicle containing the bed. He had hardly got back 
to his seat, and was again pulling on a boot, when 
there came a thump at the door and again loud 
voices. 

"I tell you that there is only a brother soldier of 
yours in here," he heard the innkeeper exclaim testily. 
"He is asleep, or was a little while ago. He has 
been here making merry with some friends, and fell 



248 With Wellington in Spain 

asleep down below. We carried him to bed and 
pulled off his clothes." 

"Then if he is asleep, open and let us see him," 
he heard from the grenadier in villainous Spanish. 
"Open, man, in the name of the Emperor!" 

, There was another bang at the door, which at 
once flew open. Tom, with his back to the entrance, 
leaned over and pulled at the boot. 

"Ha!" he heard from behind him. "The rascal! 
He is awake. Well, comrade?" 

"Well," answered our hero in a dull, thick voice. 
"Well." 

"That's you, eh?" 

" Me, right enough," Tom coughed sleepily. 
"What's the time?" 

"Time you were back in barracks," came the gruff 
answer. 

The door banged, and again voices were heard on 
the landing. 

" Not there," the grenadier told his friends. " The 
landlord is right. There is merely a sleepy, half- 
tipsy comrade. No wonder, too; these rascals of 
innkeepers sell the worst of wine at the highest figure. 
But search the other rooms. You, Jacques, stand at 
the head of the stairs; we will not have our bird 
bolting. Now, my man, lead on again." 

Tom listened attentively, and wondered what his 
next move should be. 

"Walk out in this uniform, I suppose. But it'd 
be risky; I'd be likely to be accosted by other soldiers. 



Ciudad Rodrigo 249 

I might get an order from an officer. Still, for the 
time being, it would do. But I must find some other 
disguise, for the whole garrison will soon be on the 
lookout for a young chap dressed like a civilian. I 
was suspicious of that grenadier; I was afraid he had 
spotted me. Ah, there they go!" 

More voices reached his ear. The French grena- 
diers stopped at the head of the stairs and discussed 
the matter. 

"Not here — flown through the far window," he 
heard one say. "Best be after him." 

"See here, Jacques," came to his ear. "Go down 
to the main guard and warn them to send round to 
all the gates. If we don't get the spy here, we'll 
have him as he attempts to leave. Tell them to 
search every civilian." 

There was a clatter outside the cabaret after that, 
and then silence. Tom peeped out of the door and 
found the landing empty. He turned, hearing a 
sound from the bed, to find the sleeper sitting up on 
one arm, drowsily regarding him from the edge of 
the curtain which he had drawn aside. 

"What cheer, comrade!" the fellow gurgled with 
an inane smile. "Time for parade?" 

"Not a bit," answered our hero promptly. "Get 
to sleep again. It'll clear your head. There; I'll 
draw the curtain." 

He swung the curtain right across the end of the 
bed and heard the soldier flop down again on his 
pillows. Then, once more, he went to the door. 



25o With Wellington in Spain 

There was no one about, though on peering out of 
the window he saw the landlord standing in the 
street outside with a curious crowd about him. 

" Said a spy had been here," he was shouting 
angrily. "As if I, Francisco, would harbour such 
an one. A spy indeed! What does an innkeeper 
have to do with spying?" 

The crafty fellow did not tell the listeners that he 
was an agent of the French, the go-between for in- 
formation of the movements of the British, the men 
who had come to the country to free himself and 
his nation from the grip of France. And he scouted 
the idea that his messenger could have been an 
Englishman, or the message he brought written by 
other than the traitor who hid himself in Oporto 
and hired rascals like himself in the neighbourhood 
of Wellington's camp. To this Francisco it was 
out of the question that Tom could be anything 
but what he represented himself to be. But that 
others thought differently was certain; for there was 
a bustle all over the defences. Tom could see squads 
of men marching swiftly. Mounted messengers gal- 
loped here and there, while a double company was 
massed at the gate by which he had entered. 

"They've made up their minds that they've a spy 
here, and that's the end of it," he told himself. 
"Soon there'll be a call for all the troops, and this 
fellow here will be bustled out to join 'em. That'll 
be awkward. What can I do? Ah, let's see what 
the other rooms contain!" 



Ciudad Rodrigo 251 

He went scuttling across the landing and dived 
into a room almost opposite. It belonged, probably, 
to the daughter of the house, for it was neat and 
tidy, while a couple of dresses hung on the wall. 
Tom pulled a cupboard open and peeped in. 

"Got it!" he cried. "Here's the very thing — a 
sort of mantilla. Now for the dress and anything 
else likely to come handy." 

He swept up an armful and dived back to the 
room he had been occupying. There he threw off 
the French uniform and dressed himself in the new 
garments he had secured. 

"Not half bad," he grinned, as he stood before 
a cracked glass perched on a rickety table. " My 
uncle, as Jack would say, but I'm not half bad-looking 
when dressed as a girl ! Am I right, though? Wish 
I knew more about these things. If only there was 
another glass I'd be able to see what my back looks 
like. Now, we practise walking. Gently does it. 
Hang this skirt! Nearly took a header that time, 
and — yes — I've torn the thing badly. Want a pin 
for that. Got it — here it is, just handy." 

Afraid? Not a bit of it; Tom wasn't that. Merely 
hugely excited, for the occasion was somewhat stren- 
uous. The noise outside, the blare of bugles, the 
rattle of drums and the clatter of moving troops told 
him that plainly. Also he guessed, and guessed 
rightly, that he was the cause of all the bustle. He 
swung the mantilla over his head, half-swathed his 
face in it, took one last look at his reflection, and 



252 With Wellington in Spain 

then went to the door. No one was moving upstairs ; 
the coast was clear. 

" Straight bang for the window," he told himself. 
i l Wonder what's below? Wouldn't there be a howl 
if they saw a girl dropping from one. Here we are. 
This'll do — out we go ! " 

There was a sheer drop of ten or more feet into an 
enclosed yard at the back of the house; but a door 
led from the yard into a lane, and that promised 
to give access to one of the streets. Tom did not 
wait a moment. Indeed, the sound of steps on the 
stairs hastened him, while, as if everything must 
needs conspire to thwart his hopes, the door he had 
so recently closed on the sleeping soldier opened, 
and that individual staggered out on to the landing. 
By then Tom was half through the window. He 
waited not an instant, but swung himself down and 
dropped to the ground. Dashing across to the gate 
he was through it in a few moments. 

" Steady does it," he murmured, finding it ex- 
tremely difficult to obey the order and to refrain 
from running. " There's that idiot grinning at me 
from the window. Ah, that places me out of sight! 
Guess he's considerably astonished." 

There was little doubt but that the soldier was 
flabbergasted. In his sleepy, maudlin condition he 
found it very hard to understand the meaning of 
the scene he had but just witnessed. He was 
filled with a stupid admiration of the pluck of the 
damsel he had seen leap from the window, but felt 



Ciudad Rodrigo 253 

no further interest. His muddled mind asked for no 
reason for such behaviour, while his ignorance of the 
commotion then filling the place, and of the search 
that was being made for a spy, left him merely ad- 
miring a feat which was to him extraordinary. 

As for Tom, he stepped down the lane and was 
soon in the main street, that of St. Angelo. A crowd 
of excited individuals of all ages and of both sexes 
was hastening down towards the main guard, and, 
since he could do nothing better, he went with them, 
safer in their midst than he could have been in any 
other position. Parties of soldiers passed them con- 
stantly, while all down the street houses were being 
searched, and every civilian of the male sex stopped 
and closely questioned. As a result there was an 
extraordinary hubbub. Women shrieked indignantly 
from their windows, resenting such intrusion, while 
men stood sullenly at their doors, looking as if they 
would have gladly murdered the Frenchmen. 

" Seems to me that IVe dropped on the only real 
disguise," Tom chuckled. " But there's one thing 
to be remembered : if the daughter of Francisco goes 
to her room she will discover what has happened, 
then there'll be another flare up. Time I looked 
into the business part of this thing seriously." 

He had come carefully armed with a small note- 
book and pencil, and, having in the past two months 
received some instruction in sketching, he felt sure 
that he had only to use his eyes, and discover a retired 
spot, when he would be able to gather a sufficiently 



254 With Wellington in Spain 

correct plan of the defences. Indeed he strolled 
about, first with one batch of excited inhabitants 
and then with another, till he had made a round of 
the place, retiring now and again to some quiet corner 
where he jotted down his observations. Every gun 
he saw was marked, every earthwork drawn in with 
precision. A few careful questions gave him the 
position of stores and magazines, while a little smil- 
ing chat with a French sentry, who seemed to admire 
this girl immensely, put Tom in possession of the 
strength of the garrison, the name of the general 
in command, and the fact that other troops were no- 
where in the vicinity. 

"Then it's time to think of departing. That'll be 
a conundrum," he told himself. u Couldn't drop over 
the walls, that's certain. Halloo! mounted men have 
been sent out to cut me off should I try to make a 
dash from the place. This is getting particularly 
awkward." 

It was well past noon by now, and Tom was getting 
ravenously hungry. He stood amongst a group of 
civilians on one of the walls of the place looking 
out towards the part where Jack and his men were 
secreted. Troopers could be seen cantering here and 
there, while others were halted at regular intervals, 
and stood beside their horses prepared to mount and 
ride at any moment. Strolling along with his new 
acquaintances our hero was soon able to get a 
glimpse of the other side of Ciudad Rodrigo and 
its surroundings there. But there was not a break 



Ciudad Rodrigo 255 

in the line of troopers circling the place. It was 
evident, in fact, that no effort was to be spared to 
capture the fellow whom the grenadier had first sus- 
pected. Nor was there any doubt in the mind of 
the French general that his suspicion was justified ; 
for Francisco had now disgorged the papers Tom 
had handed him, and these on inspection proved 
to be wanting in one particular. The secret sign of 
the agent who was supposed to have sent them, 
which was always attached to such papers, was 
lacking, proof positive that the news was false and 
the bearer an enemy. 

It was, perhaps, two or three hours after noon 
when Tom mixed with a crowd of curious citizens 
at the very gate which he had entered that morning, 
and watched as soldiers came and went. Sometimes 
a civilian would pass through also, though in every 
case he was closely inspected. As for the women 
and children, as yet they had not ventured out. 
But curiosity soon got the better of them. A laugh- 
ing dame thrust her way through, the guard passing 
her willingly. Then the others pressed forward, and 
in a little while Tom was outside, sauntering here 
and there, wistfully looking at those hills which he 
had left in the morning. 

" And still as far away as ever," he told himself. 
"Wish I could get hold of a horse — that would 
do it. Whatfs the matter now? There's another 
disturbance in the town ; people are shouting. Here's 
a trooper galloping out." 



256 With Wellington in Spain 

By then he was some distance from the outer wall, 
but still within the ring of dismounted troopers. And, 
as he had observed, there was another commotion. 
In a few minutes, indeed, there was a movement 
amongst the civilians. Those nearest the gate were 
hastening back, while troopers galloped out to fetch 
in stragglers. One of these came dashing up to the 
group Tom accompanied. 

"Get back through the gates," he commanded 
brusquely. 

"And why?" asked the same laughing dame who 
had led the movement from the fortress. "Why, 
friend?" 

* ' Because there is a vixen amongst you who is not 
what she seems, " the man answered angrily. * i There's 
information that this spy borrowed women's clothing; 
you may be he. We'll have to look into the matter 
— back you all go." 

He was a rough fellow, who held no love for these 
people, and riding amongst them actually upset 
the woman who had spoken, causing her to shriek 
aloud. 

"Coward!" she cried, picking herself up with diffi- 
culty and trembling at his violence. 

"Eh!" exclaimed the brute, angered at the taunt. 
"Now bustle, and keep a civil tongue between your 
teeth — bustle, I say." 

He edged his horse still closer, till the woman fell 
again, terrified by the close approach of the animal 
the trooper rode. 



Ciudad Rodrigo 257 

"Shame!" cried Tom, his gorge rising. "Do the 
French then fight with women?" 

He had called out in the voice of a woman, and 
looked, in fact, merely a young girl. But that made 
little difference to this brute of a trooper. He set 
his horse in Tom's direction, and looked as if he 
would actually ride over him. And then there was a 
sudden and unexpected change; for the young girl 
displayed the most extraordinary activity. She leaped 
aside, darted in, and sprang up behind the trooper. 
For a moment there was a tussle; and then the 
trooper was lifted from his saddle and tipped out on 
to the ground. Before the astonished and frightened 
crowd of women could realize what was happening, 
or the trooper gather a particle of his scattered wits, 
the girl was firmly planted in his place, her feet were 
jammed in the stirrups, and there was presented to 
all who happened to be looking in that direction as 
strange a sight as could be well imagined. Shrieks 
filled the air; men shouted hoarsely to one another, 
while the troopers standing at their horses' heads 
leaped into their saddles. 

"It is the spy! It is the English spy!" was 
shouted from the walls. "The spy!" bellowed the 
bullying soldier whom Tom had unhorsed, making 
a funnel of his hands and turning to the trooper who 
was nearest. 

"Follow!" came in stentorian tones from the 
nearest officer. 

Then began a race the like of which had never 

(O970) 17 



258 With Wellington in Spain 

been witnessed outside Ciudad Rodrigo. Tom clapped 
the heels of his French boots to the flanks of his 
borrowed horse, while the mantilla that had done 
him such service, caught by the breeze, went blowing 
out behind him. Bending low, he sent the animal 
galloping direct for the hills, smiling grimly as the 
crack of carbines came from behind him. 

" Jack'll be up there waiting," he thought as he 
glanced ahead. " He'll soon send these fellows back 
once they get within shot. Pah! That was a near 
one ; the bullet struck my boot. Beg pardon, not my 
boot, but that fellow's at the cabaret. Glad there's 
no horsemen in front of me. So much the better; 
it's going to be a fine gallop." 

A fine gallop it proved, too. His mount was blown 
before the chase was over, while had it lasted a little 
longer he would certainly have been taken. But of 
a sudden heavy musketry fire broke out from a point 
a little to one side. Dark figures, clad in the well- 
known rough uniform of Tom's guerrillas, appeared 
on the hillside. And then a shrill whistle sounded. 
It was perhaps a minute later that Tom threw himself 
from his horse and stood amongst his comrades. And 
how Jack roared with laughter, how the men grinned 
their delight, how Andrews, who had but just reached 
the party spluttered and attempted to behave as be- 
came a disciplined soldier! 

" Introduce me, do," gurgled Jack, seizing Alfonso 
by the arm and doubling up with merriment. " Miss 
what's-her-name, eh?" 




TOM ESCAPES FROM CIUDAD RODRIGO 



Ciudad Rodrigo 259 

" Clifford, at your service," grinned Tom, "and 
don't you forget it!" 

" Of all the boys!" spluttered Andrews, his face 
red with his efforts. " I knew he had backbone, but 
this here's something different." 

" Allow me," said Jack in his most gallant manner, 
offering an arm. " Excuse me if I appear a little 
forward." 

"Rats!" was Tom's somewhat abrupt answer. 
"Let the boys fall in. We'll march at once; I've 
had a spree, I can tell you." 

It was with grins of delight and many an exclama- 
tion that his comrades listened to the tale, a narrative 
soon passed on by Alfonso to their following. Mean- 
while Tom tore his borrowed clothing from him, 
donned his handsome uniform, and made ready for 
more active movement. 

"We've done a good part of our work," he said. 
" Now for that fellow in Oporto. Let's ride back 
to the camp, leaving some of our men to watch the 
roads near it. I'll hand my notes in to the chief 
of the staff, and then look into the last part of this 
matter. Wonder who the rogue is who's such a 
friend of Francisco, and sends news to the men that 
are enemies of his country." 

They might all wonder, and the reader need not 
feel surprised if he learns that this rascal was too 
clever for those who sought him. The hovel to which 
the man whom Tom's guerrillas had captured led 
them — and who had promised information in return 



a6o With Wellington in Spain 

for his life — was empty. There was no particle of 
evidence to prove where the rascal had flown; but 
careful search discovered a note hidden in a crevice 
of the ceiling, and when that was opened the informa- 
tion contained proved to be of little value. 

" Come to Badajoz," it said. " There ask for Juan 
de Milares, in the street of St. Paulo. There is still 
work to be done and money to be earned for the 
doing." 

"Same handwriting without a doubt," declared 
Jack emphatically. "The bird's flown, and Badajoz 
is out of the question." 

As a general rule one would have agreed with him; 
for, like Ciudad Rodrigo, that fortress was garrisoned 
by the French. But circumstances alter cases, and 
Tom soon recognized this to be a fact, since there 
was further information awaiting him in Oporto. A 
visit to the house of Septimus John Clifford & Son 
discovered something approaching a tragedy. For 
Juan de Esteros had disappeared that very evening, 
and with him no less a person than Septimus John 
Clifford himself. 

"But where?" demanded Tom, filled with appre- 
hension. 

"Alas, there is nothing to tell us!" answered the 
chief clerk, as faithful a fellow as the worthy Huggins. 
"They left without a word to anyone, without so 
much as a sound. They dined together and sat on 
the veranda reading. Later they retired to their 
rooms; after that we know nothing." 



Ciudad Rodrigo 261 

"But," exclaimed Tom, aghast at the mystery, 
" surely there's " 

" There is merely this," came the answer, while 
a slip of paper was thrust into his hands. "We 
found it resting on the table, weighted so that it could 
not blow away. Read, senor" 

Tom scanned the lines for some few moments, 
while his smooth forehead wrinkled deeply. "Thus 
is the house of Septimus John Clifford & Son pun- 
ished," he read, the Spanish letters being scrawled 
across the paper. Yes scrawled. In a moment he 
recognized that writing. It was put upon the paper 
by the selfsame man who had sent information to 
the commandant at Ciudad Rodrigo, the traitor who 
was eager and willing to supply news which would 
help the enemies of his country. 

"Well? What next?" asked Jack when the fact 
had been explained to him. 

"To Badajoz, that's all," came the short answer. 
"This villain's got hold of my father and uncle for 
some reason or other. It's plainly my duty to look 
into the matter; so I'll pay Badajoz a visit, just as 
I went to Ciudad Rodrigo. Wonder who this chap 
is and what game he's up to? But duty first, Jack; 
we'll make back to the camp and see what's expected 
of us." 

If Tom had hoped to pursue a private matter just 
then he was to be disappointed. For barely was 
Christmas past, and the new year entered upon, 
when Wellington threw the whole force he com- 



262 With Wellington in Spain 

manded against Ciudad Rodrigo. Pressing the siege 
with intense energy — for there was always the fear 
that the French would concentrate on him from all 
parts and raise the siege before it was successfully 
over — he launched his attacking parties after remark- 
ably short delay. The fighting which resulted was 
of the severest description, and the greatest gallantry 
and resolution was shown by either side. But British 
pluck won. The defences were captured, and within 
a few hours of the assault the place which Tom had 
visited was garrisoned by British instead of by French 
soldiers. Then Wellington turned toward Badajoz, 
outside which Tom and his men had for two weeks 
past thrown out a circle of their men, thus cutting 
all communications. 

" It'll be a hard nut to crack," observed the merry 
Jack, casting his eye up at the defences; "but I 
suppose we'll do it." 

" We must," declared Tom with emphasis. " Any- 
way, I've got to get inside the place and unravel this 
mystery. There's father and Don Juan to find and 
release, and then there's that rascal who took them." 

But would Tom, or indeed any of our men, ever 
get within this terribly grim fortress? It seemed 
unlikely enough, viewing the defences, and we may 
declare here and now that before our hero was to 
set foot within the place he was to take part in fight- 
ing of the very fiercest. 



CHAPTER XIV 

One of the Forlorn Hope 

" A terribly hard nut to crack," observed Jack, for 
perhaps the twentieth time, as he and Tom sat their 
horses on a ridge above Badajoz, and looked down 
upon the fortress. " It'll be interesting to see how 
Wellington sets about the matter. Suppose there'll 
be a tremendous cannonade, and then an assault. 
Wish we were going to be in it." 

"I mean to, whatever happens," came from our 
hero, who was staring down at the fortress, as if he 
wished to guess in which house his father and Don 
Juan were imprisoned. "As to how it'll be done, 
there's no saying; for I've never witnessed a siege 
before. But apparently the sappers and miners dig 
their way toward the fortress, erecting batteries as 
they go, till they are so close that our guns can 
batter down the walls. Then comes the grand as- 
sault. I can imagine that that is a terrific business. 
Well, let's ride round the place and see what's 
happening. There's very little else for us to do just 
now, and we can leave the men with Alfonso." 

For two weeks past the combined command of 
Portuguese and Spanish guerrillas whom Tom had 



264 With Wellington in Spain 

charge of had been operating about the magnificent 
fortress which Wellington had determined to capture. 
Throwing a circle completely about the place, they 
had cut the garrison off entirely from the outside 
world, and thus had enabled Wellington to concen- 
trate his men without alarming the French. For 
here again, as in the case of Ciudad Rodrigo, it 
was all -important that the siege operations should 
not be disturbed by the arrival of a large French 
force, against whom our troops would have to act 
before taking the fortress. As in the case of Ciudad 
Rodrigo, had information leaked out the enemy could 
easily have concentrated a force in the neighbourhood, 
sufficient to delay and make impossible all siege 
operations. But, thanks to secrecy in his prepara- 
tions, thanks, too, in no small measure to the work 
of such corps as Tom commanded, the intentions of 
Wellington were quite unknown, till, of a sudden, 
in the March following his capture of Ciudad Rod- 
rigo, he turned his divisions in the direction of 
Badajoz, a fortress sometimes known as "the gate 
of Spain", and, crossing the River Guadiana on the 
1 6th, caused the place to be invested by the three 
divisions commanded by Beresford and Picton. The 
remainder of his troops, some 60,000 in all, counting- 
Spanish and Portuguese allies, covered the siege 
operations. 

Looking down from the point of vantage to which 
they had ridden, Tom and his chum could obtain 
a bird's-eye view of the ancient fortress of Badajoz, 



One of the Forlorn Hope 265 

and could easily trace its outline. But the arrival 
of a staff officer helped them wonderfully to under- 
stand what was occurring before their eyes. Canter- 
ing up the hill at this moment, and looking the 
smart fellow he was, this officer drew rein close to 
the two young fellows, acknowledging their salutes 
with one as brisk, and with a smile. 

" Taking the air?" he asked. "We shall have 
plenty of it before we've done with the Frenchies. 
Ah! that's Clifford, I believe." 

Tom saluted again and flushed. 

" The officer the French refuse to fight, eh?" 

Our hero was compelled to agree, with heightened 
colour, whereat the officer laughed loudly. 

"And his adjutant along with him, too," he re- 
marked, looking the unabashed Jack up and down, 
and reflecting that he seemed to be a very smart and 
jovial fellow. "You chaps know how you're spoken 
of, perhaps, eh?" he asked with another smile, causing 
both the lads to shake their heads. 

"Then I'll tell you. Never is one seen but the 
other is at his heels. So throughout the army 
you're known as the "twins". Good name, isn't 
it?" 

Once more they heard his hearty laughter, which 
they shared with him; for this was news to our two 
heroes. Not that they could help admitting that 
there was reason for the name they had earned, since 
Jack Barwood had become Tom's veritable shadow. 
They seemed to haunt the same piece of ground 



266 With Wellington in Spain 

always, and even when with their command the 
jovial Jack was ever at the side of his superior. 
There was a whisper also amongst the men, fostered 
not a little by voluble sayings of Andrews and his 
brother rifleman, that these two young officers, occupy- 
ing such posts of responsibility, were nevertheless not 
above a little skylarking. Indeed, if Tom and Jack 
had proved that they were eager and ready to lead 
their men into action, they had also more than once 
shown a disposition to lead them into mischief. 

"Well, now, let's have a look at the place," said 
the officer, producing a short spyglass. "You can 
see for yourselves how the fortress is placed. It 
stands on an eminence at the junction of the Rivers 
Guadiana and Rivillas, the former being crossed by a 
long bridge, which you can see for yourself. There's 
the castle, perched a hundred feet above the level of 
the rivers, and occupying almost the apex of the 
point of confluence. The town spreads behind it fan- 
wise, and is walled, presenting eight strong bastions, 
with curtains, counterscarps, glacis, and covered ways, 
without doubt, all helping to make the place ex- 
tremely strong. There are five gates, though you 
can't see them all from this point. There, take a 
look; you can actually observe people moving in the 
streets." 

The view was, in fact, an enchanting one; for 
Badajoz at that time was not an erection of a few 
years, but one of great antiquity. It had withstood 
sieges against the Moors and Goths, and had been 



One of the Forlorn Hope 267 

taken and retaken many a time; and there it was 
fully prepared for another siege, garrisoned by some 
5000 of the enemy, and packed to repletion with 
guns, ammunition, and food; in fact with all that 
makes defence possible. 

"And how will the siege be conducted?" asked 
Tom, when he had taken a long look at the place. 
" Shall we endeavour to make a breach at one point 
or at many?" 

"Many," came the short answer. "No doubt 
Wellington will launch his attacking parties in 
several directions. But first he must smash up that 
work you see on the far side of the river, known as 
Fort Picurina. Batteries will be placed elsewhere, 
and I believe the angle nearest us has been selected, 
as well as that farthest away, close to the Trinidad 
and St. Vincent bastions respectively. In a few 
hours the guns will be thundering in a manner which 
will open your eyes." 

The bombardment that followed was, in fact, a 
revelation to our hero ; for, though Wellington might 
easily have been better equipped for a siege, and have 
had a far superior battering train, the guns he pos- 
sessed were nevertheless of service. Nor must it be 
forgotten that these same guns had been brought into 
position only after the very greatest labour and 
secrecy; for they had been sent round by sea from 
Lisbon, had then been transported up the River 
Setubal in small boats, to Alcacer do Sal, and thence 
by land across the Alemtejo to the River Guadiana. 



268 With Wellington in Spain 

Think of the labour involved in such an operation, 
of the secrecy necessary to keep the movement from 
the knowledge of the French. Think also of the small 
army of helpers, all taking part in this war, and yet 
working out of sound of gun shot, and far from the 
presence of the enemy. That, perhaps is a question 
which escapes the notice of many. The tale of some 
campaign brings to light narratives of gallant deeds, 
of fierce attacks, of strenuous fighting; it leaves too 
often to the imagination of one ignorant of the life 
of a soldier, and of the needs of a campaign, all the 
numerous services upon which success of an army 
in the field depends. For if there be no one to super- 
vise the stores, and to dispatch them to the seat of 
war, how can troops operate in a country devoid al- 
most of food, where ammunition cannot be obtained, 
and where boots, clothing, and a thousand other 
necessary trifles wear out, are lost, or destroyed with 
alarming rapidity? Think, then, of the host labour- 
ing out of sight of the enemy, but labouring never- 
theless. Think also of the other numerous band 
marching with troops as non-combatants, and yet 
subject to as great dangers, the very same priva- 
tions, and bearing on their shoulders equal, if not 
greater, responsibilities; for with the troops there 
must be men to see to the distribution of food, to 
gather stores, and apply for all that is necessary. 
There must be trained officers to look to the ailments 
of horses, and, above all, perhaps, there must be an 
army of surgeons to care for the wounded and the 



One of the Forlorn Hope 269 

thousands more who go down under privation and 
exposure. 

Riding round the bivouacs of the besieging army- 
after their chat with the staff officer, Tom began to 
gather a better impression than he had ever had 
before of the numerous duties attached to soldier- 
ing. 

In the background, well away from the investing 
regiments, were many horse lines, where rows of 
animals were picketed, their riders being encamped 
near at hand. Closer to the fortress lay the lines of 
regiments engaged in the actual work of the siege, 
and here many a camp fire blazed. Whole rows of 
camp kettles sat over the long trenches dug in the 
muddy ground, while the flames from wood fires 
swept beneath them and sent billows of odorous 
steam into the air. Butchers were at work slaughter- 
ing beasts bought for the feeding of the troops, while 
not far away a sentry stood guard over a spring 
which was the drinking supply for that portion of 
the army. But it was still nearer the fortress that 
the real interest lay; for there hundreds of men were 
delving, cutting trenches, and steadily advancing 
them toward the enemy. Indeed, that very day, they 
had need of every bit of cover; for guns opened 
from Badajoz, and clouds of grapeshot swept across 
the open. 

" Hot work, ain't it?" grinned Jack, who with Tom 
was making a tour of inspection. "Put your head 
up, Tom, and take a squint at those Frenchies." 



270 With Wellington in Spain 



a 



And get it shot to pieces for my trouble. 
Thanks!" came the laughing answer. " George! 
Listen to that." 

" My uncle!" came from the young adjutant. "A 
regular torrent. How long and how often do they 
pepper you like that?" he asked of the sapper ensign 
who had invited them to inspect the work. 

"How often? Couldn't say," was the laconic 
answer, as if the thunderous discharge of the guns 
of the enemy, and the roar of clouds of grape sweep- 
ing overhead were an everyday occurrence, and hardly 
worth discussion. "Oh, pretty often, especially at 
night! But it'd be all right if it weren't for this awful 
weather. You see, a chap has to grovel when the 
guns open, and that's bad for uniforms." 

He was something of a dandy, this immaculate 
ensign of sappers, and stepped daintly along the 
deep trenches already constructed by the British 
working parties. Tom watched him with admiration 
as he brushed some dirt from his laced sleeve with 
a silk handkerchief, and then wondered satirically for 
one brief moment if this young officer were merely 
a heap of affectation, useless for any real work, 
merely an ornament to the profession to which he 
belonged. 

" Certainly not that," he told himself a few seconds 
later, after seeing more of the ensign. " He's a born 
dandy, perhaps, but he's a plucky beggar, and a fine 
example to his men." 

That, in fact, was precisely what this ensign was, 



One of the Forlorn Hope 271 

as was the case with many another officer in Welling- 
ton's army. Example is everything when men are 
engaged in strenuous operations; and if those in 
command show coolness, determination, sangfroid, 
and other virtues, their own particular men are 
wonderfully heartened. And here was this ensign 
coolly flicking dirt from his laced sleeve, while a foot 
overhead grapeshot swept past in a torrent. There 
he was, joking and laughing with the jovial Jack as 
if he had not so much as a serious thought in his 
head, and as if this were merely a game. But a minute 
later he was leading the way to an outwork, strolling 
negligently across a portion necessarily exposed to 
the bullets of the enemy, and showing not so much 
as a sign of haste. 

" Come along," he sang out to our hero. "It's 
a little warm crossing, but it's generally all right. 
We had three caught by the enemy's bullets yester- 
day, but that's because they would stop to star gaze. 
Ah, very neat shooting, eh? I declare, the beggar 
has cut one of my epaulettes off with his shot!" 

It was true enough. Tom had heard a shot fired 
from the fortress, for the trench they had just left was 
within long range of an outwork manned by the 
enemy. He had instantly seen the left epaulette of 
the ensign rise in the air, spin round merrily, and 
then fall to the ground. And the young officer only 
showed annoyance at such an injury being done to 
his uniform! As for the men stationed in the trench 
behind, and those in the earthwork for which they 



272 With Wellington in Spain 

were making, they watched the little scene with grins 
of amusement and delight. 

" Dicky Silvester, ensign. That's him," growled 
one of the sappers hoarsely to his neighbours. 
" Joined us a year ago, or less, and looks and acts 
as if he were a born soldier, and didn't care a fig for 
bullets or anything else. Who are the other orfficers? 
Ain't they cool 'uns too? My hat, Dicky ain't the 
only one as don't give a hang for bullets!" 

The cool behaviour of the three even raised a cheer 
before they had entered the earthwork, calling a sharp 
order from the ensign. 

" What's this?" he demanded, dropping slowly out 
of shot of the enemy, a manoeuvre which Tom and 
Jack followed. " Laughing and cheering when there's 
work to be done! Here " 

Another patch of dirt on his uniform distracted his 
attention and cut short the speech. As for the men, 
they dashed their picks again into the ground and 
went on with their delving. Then whispers passed 
amongst them. 

4 'Blessed ef I don't think as the toff of an orfficer 
in staff uniform ain't Mr. Tom Clifford, him as held 
up them Portuguese in a church, commanding the 
Frenchies who'd taken him as prisoner," said one. 
" Ain't that the one?" 

"And went right into Ciudad Rodrigo t' other 
day," agreed his comrade, "and come galloping out 
dressed as a gal. He's the boy. Law! He looks 
at Badajoz as if he was hungry to get inside, and 



One of the Forlorn Hope 273 

had more almost to do with this siege than we 
have." 

Tom might indeed have been accused of that, for 
those wretchedly wet days in March, 1812, found him 
frequently in the trenches, watching as parallels were 
dug, eagerly measuring the advance of the busy army 
of sappers digging their way closer to the fortress. 
Or he would lie behind one of the batteries by day 
and by night, and would listen to the thunder of the 
guns, and would watch for the tell-tale spout of dust 
which shot into the air as the huge iron ball struck 
the bastion. Then would come the clatter of falling 
masonry, followed perhaps by a cheer from the gun- 
ners. More often the shot would be answered by a 
terrific hail of grape, which pattered overhead, swept 
the entire face of the batteries — and but for the fascines 
erected to give cover every one of the gunners 
would have been killed — then whizzed across the 
open, splashing into the many pools of water which 
had been left by the heavy and almost continuous 
rain. It seemed, indeed, slow work this siege opera- 
tion ; slow and perhaps not too sure. 

" For even when the breaches are practicable there 
are the defenders to be dealt with," thought Tom. 
" There will be mines to blow us up, obstructions 
of every sort, and grape and shot showered down 
upon us. But take the place we will; I mean to be 
one of the very first inside the fortress." 

Any doubts Tom may have had as to the deter- 
mination of Lord Wellington were soon set at rest; 

(C570) 18 



274 With Wellington in Spain 

for, the weather still continuing atrocious, and the 
trenches being flooded and almost uninhabitable, an 
assault of the Picurina was ordered, and the fort car- 
ried with brilliant dash by 500 men of the 3rd Divi- 
sion. The storm of shot and shell poured into the 
fort after we had gained possession of it was such that 
one wondered how the new garrison could live, for 
Phillipon, the commander of the French, did his 
utmost to drive us out. But our men stuck grimly 
to the task, and again plying their busy spades, soon 
had advanced to a point where batteries could be 
erected. And then began a trial of skill and endu- 
rance between the gunners of France and those of 
England. By day and by night the neighbourhood 
echoed to the roar. A pall of smoke hung over fort- 
ress and encampment, while in the depths of night 
guns flashed redly, and spluttering portfires hovered 
here and there as the gunners stood to their pieces. 
At length the work was done; the breaches were 
declared practicable, though to view them and the 
grim lines hovering in rear, prepared to defend every 
inch of the steeply -sloping rubbish, would have 
caused any but brave men to shiver. But Welling- 
ton's men were as determined as he ; they had set their 
hearts on gaining the fortress. The call for a forlorn 
hope, as ever, produced a swarm of volunteers. That 
night of 6 April, a night the anniversary of which 
is ever kept with loving memory by those who now 
serve in the regiments then present at Badajoz, found 
18,000 bold fellows craving for the signal which 



One of the Forlorn Hope 275 

should launch them to the attack, craving for the 
signal which, alas! would launch many and many 
a gallant officer and lad into eternity. Let us, too, 
remember those heroes with honour, recollecting 
that by their gallantry and dash they helped in the 
work in progress, and that every fortress won in this 
Peninsula campaign was yet another step forward, 
a step that would add to the difficulties of Bona- 
parte, and which, with those which followed, ulti- 
mately brought about his downfall. Let us honour 
them as gallant souls who cast off the yoke then 
weighing upon the peoples of Europe. 

" You'll go with the stormers?" asked Jack of Tom, 
almost beneath his breath, as the two stood side by 
side in the trenches. 

"I've obtained permission, and go I shall," came 
the determined answer. "Now recollect, Jack, what 
I've said. If Badajoz is taken, the rascal who has 
captured my people will do his best to get out of the 
place. See that our men are lively when the first 
streak of dawn comes, and let them arrest any 
civilian." 

"Good luck! Take care," gasped Jack, loath to 
part with his old friend. "I'll watch outside and 
see that all is done as you've directed; but do take 
care. Recollect, the regiment can't do without you." 

He was sent off with a merry laugh from Tom, and 
straightway clambered up a rise from which he could 
view the proceedings. A strange silence hung about 
the fortress. Within and without the trenches, packed 



276 With Wellington in Spain 

in the batteries, and in many another part lay the 
stormers, waiting, waiting for that signal. Picton's 
division on the right crouched over their scaling 
ladders, ready to rush to the walls of the castle. On 
the left, Sir James Leith's division waited to make 
a false attack on the Pardeleras, an outside work. 
But the Bastion de San Vincente was the real point 
of attack, and Walker's brigade, part of this division, 
was destined to assault it. The Light Division was 
to dash for the Santa Maria quarter, while the 4th 
was to hurl itself against the breach in the Trinidad 
quarter. The St. Roque bastion, in between these two 
latter, was to be stormed by Major Wilson, who was 
in command of the guards of the trenches. Finally, 
the Portuguese were to see what could be done with 
the Tete de Pont, the outwork on the far bank of the 
River Guadiana, commanding ttr head of the bridge. 
A dull hum above the trenches told of excitement. 
Flickering lights and a subdued murmur above the 
fortress showed that the defenders were prepared. 
Silently men gathered before the 4th and the Light 
Division, men provided with ladders and axes, with 
but few rounds of ammunition, and freed of their 
knapsacks. Each carried a sack rilled with hay, 
which, it was hoped, would give some cover. And 
before those two parties waiting in front of the two 
divisions, and each counting 500 men, there fell in 
yet again two parties of heroes, the forlorn hopes, the 
officers and men who were sworn to enter the fortress, 
to show the way in, or to die in the attempt, noble 



One of the Forlorn Hope 277 

souls who worked not for gold as a reward, but only 
for the honour and glory of their country. 

Ah! a blaze of light from a carcass hurled from 
the wall showed one of those advance parties. Shouts 
echoed from the fortress, then there came the splash 
of flame from guns, the spurting tongues of fire 
belched from muskets, and the thunder of the ex- 
plosions. Cheers and hurrahs broke from our men. 
What matter if the alarm had been sounded half an 
hour before Wellington was to give the fatal signal? 
They were ready — the boys of the Light Brigade, the 
heroes of the 4th Division — the stormers all along 
the walls were ready. A mad babel broke the former 
silence or semi-silence, portfires flashed in all direc- 
tions, while fireballs were hurled into the ditches, 
lighting the way of the stormers. Pandemonium was 
let loose at Badajoz that night. A cloudy, star-strewn 
sky looked down upon horrors which one hopes may 
never be repeated. For on the side of the French 
was shown great bravery and demoniacal cunning. 
Every artifice of the besieged was employed, while on 
the side of the British soldiers a mad, a frantic courage 
was displayed. What if mines did burst and blow 
hundreds to pieces? Their comrades dashed down 
into the ditch without hesitation, and cast themselves 
into the selfsame breach where the tragedy had been 
perpetrated. What if the enemy did cast bags of 
gunpowder into the confused ranks of the stormers? 
It was all the more inducement to them to dash 
onward. 



278 With Wellington in Spain 

To describe all that occurred would be beyond us. 
Let us follow our hero, though, and see what hap- 
pened in his direction. Tom was one of the forlorn 
hope. Shouldering his hay pack, and gripping his 
sword, he dashed at the breach before him when 
the alarm was given. The stunning discharge of 
a cannon to his front almost swept him from his feet, 
and cleared a lane through the comrades before him. 
A fireball danced down the steep slope of the breach 
and blazed brightly, showing the faces and figures 
of the enemy plainly, the muskets they were levelling, 
and an appalling chevaux de frise erected at the top 
of the breach. Composed of naked sabre blades 
secured to logs of wood, this obstacle awaited the 
stormers before they could come to hand grips with 
the enemy. But that was not all. Tom stumbled 
over a boulder, floundered on to his face, and was 
then lifted boldly and flung aside by a mighty 
concussion. 

"A mine," he thought. "Am I alive or not? 
What's happened to the others?" 

He might well ask that. The poor fellows were 
swept out of existence almost to a man ; but behind 
them were the noble five hundred, and in rear again 
the gallant Light Division. Before them was the 
breach; that terrible breach, with its defenders, its 
guns, its awful obstacle, and the hundred-and-one 
means there for the destruction of the stormers. 
Time and again did men dash at it. Gallant souls, 
driven crazy by the hazard they endured, and filled 



One of the Forlorn Hope 279 

with fearful determination, clambered to that chevaux 
de frtse and were there slaughtered. Officers stood 
in full sight of the enemy calling to their men, lead- 
ing them upward. And yet none could enter. 

Elsewhere the fighting had been equally strenuous. 
After many and many an attempt the castle was at 
length won, and later Walker's brigade tore its 
gallant way over the San Vincente Bastion, victorious 
in spite of mines and guns fired at point-blank range. 
It was from that quarter, in fact, that success at 
length came; for the Light and the 4th Divisions 
had as yet failed to burst their way through the 
breaches before them. But an advance from the 
direction of San Vincente took the defenders in the 
rear, and just as our men had retired at the orders 
of Wellington, preparatory to a fresh attack, those 
breaches were taken. Men burst in now from all 
directions; the enemy fled for the most part to Fort 
Christoval, over the river, and Badajoz was ours. 
Cheers and counter cheers were heard in all quarters. 
The wounded sat up as best they could and joined 
in the jubilation, and then pandemonium again broke 
out in every street of the city; for the victorious 
troops straightway got out of hand. They poured 
in a torrent through the streets of Badajoz, rifling 
the houses, and, breaking into the cabarets, helped 
themselves to the wines of Spain. That early mor- 
ning, in fact, discovered a terrible situation in the 
fortress; for of order there was none. Drunken 
soldiers staggered over the pavements committing 



280 With Wellington in Spain 

violence everywhere, while as many more were 
pillaging or doing actual violence to the unfortunate 
inhabitants. And all that while Tom Clifford lay 
on the slope of the breach which with many another 
gallant soul he had endeavoured to storm. Regi- 
ments passed over him. The surgeons and their 
bearers came and went in search of the wounded, and 
passed him always. For Tom lay stark and still. 
With his face half-buried in the torn tunic of a soldier 
who had died while doing his duty, and his limbs 
curled up as if he were asleep, he lay without a move- 
ment, appearing not even to breathe, lifeless to those 
who cast a casual glance at him. 

"Dead!" groaned Jack and Andrews when at 
length they found him. " Killed by the mine which 
wiped out every man of ' the forlorn hope '. Poor 
Tom!" 

" Breathing!" shouted Alfonso, who also accom- 
panied him. "I tell you he is still alive." 

That brought them all about him, and within a few 
minutes our hero was being carried from the breach. 
But was he living still? Was Badajoz to see the end 
of a promising career, and put a stop to his quest? 
Or would Tom Clifford appear upon the scenes again, 
and still have something to say to the rascal who had 
abducted both father and uncle? 



CHAPTER XV 

Round about Badajoz 

There was a business-like air about the jovial Jack 
Barwood on the second morning after the fall of 
Badajoz, a seriousness about the smart young adjutant 
to which his friends were unaccustomed, a furrowing 
of his youthful brow, and an appearance of intentness 
and determination which would have aroused the 
friendly satire of old comrades. Dressed in the 
smart uniform of the gallant 6oth Rifles, he marched 
briskly along one of the quieter streets, passing as 
he did so a half-company of infantry escorting a 
batch of semi-drunken soldiers, the gallant souls 
amongst Wellington's army who, now that the fight- 
ing was over, had lost all sense of discipline, and, 
aching no doubt for the many good things to which 
they had been strangers for so long, had burst their 
way into private dwellings and had behaved like 
scoundrels instead of brave soldiers. 

Jack took the salute of a Portuguese guerrilla sentry 
marching sedately to and fro before a huge door, and 
that too of a Spaniard, one also of the band under 
Tom's command. 

281 



282 With Wellington in Spain 

"Well?" he questioned in Portuguese, his accent 
none of the best. " Any news? Any more callers?" 

" None, senor." 

" And the news?" 

"Good, senor; he lives. He will get well and 
strong to command us." 

There was a gleam of pleasure in the eyes of the 
two sentries as Jack spoke, while they watched him 
beat upon the door and enter. 

"A fine officer; one of the English!" exclaimed 
the Spaniard, who seemed to be on the best of terms 
with the Portuguese guerrilla, a strange occurrence 
in those days. "If the worst were to come to the 
worst " 

"Yes," responded the other, in a patois both could 
understand, "yes, he would command. But it would 
not be the same; the Senor Tom is one man, the 
Senor Jack another." 

Inside stood the faithful Andrews and Howeley, 
drawn stiffiy to attention, saluting their officer. Jack's 
serious face brightened. 

"Well?" he demanded again, as if he were short 
of words. 

" Better, sir, beggin' pardon," came from Andrews, 
with his accustomed formula demanding pardon. 
"Surgeon's been and gone; says as Mr. Clifford's 
as hard as rocks, and if he wasn't he'd have been 
trampled and banged to pieces. Swears as he must 
have fust of all been blowed skyhigh, and then 
charged over by a thousand of the stormers. He's 



Round about Badajoz 283 

takin' notice of things, sir, is Mr. Clifford. Axing 
fer the regiment, and you. He'd have been out of 
bed if I hadn't prevented him — and, my word, he 
were a handful!" 

" Ah!" ejaculated Jack, a grin rising on his solemn 
features. "A handful! Tom's that all the time. 
Wanted to get up, eh?" 

"Yes, sir," grunted the rifleman, still stiffly at 
attention. ' Not you, sir,' I says; * you're as weak 
as a kitten.' ' Rot!' he whispers, 'cos he can't speak 
no higher. * I've got work, Andrews.' 'So has we 
all,' I answers. 'Orders is orders, sir.' 'Eh?' he 
asks, sharp-like, as you know, sir. ' Orders that 
you're to stay abed, sir,' I says, not half-liking things. 
'Orders be hanged,' he tries to shout, struggling to 
get up, and then falling back on the pillow."' 

"Like him," smiled Jack. Anyway he's safe 
now, eh?" 

If it were a question of our hero's security from 
interference, then there was little doubt; for beside 
those two sentries parading outside the courtyard 
of the house in which he lay, there were a dozen 
more at different points, with Andrews and Howeley 
to supervise them. Nor were such precautions to 
be wondered at when the tale of the last few hours 
was told. Tom had not only passed through the 
dangers of a siege. True, he had escaped the ordeal 
at the breaches, and had been borne still breathing 
into the town. But there another danger had sud- 
denly assailed him ; for no sooner was he laid in bed, 



284 With Wellington in Spain 

and Jack had departed, than the watchful Andrews had 
discovered a sneaking form clambering in by one of 
the windows. Had Andrews been Septimus John 
Clifford's head clerk he would then and there have 
made a discovery of vast importance, and one which 
we will at once hand on to the reader. For this 
sneaking intruder, bearing a stiletto in one hand, 
was none other than Jose de Esteros, Tom's cousin, 
now sunk to the lowest depths of infamy, and fore- 
stalled just in the nick of time in the endeavour to 
carry out further villainy. He had made good his 
escape, and, as a result, Tom's little command now 
watched over their damaged leader. 

The best of food, the most careful attention on 
the part of the army surgeon, and the tenderest 
nursing at the hands of Andrews and others were 
already having their effect, and so, for a while, we 
may leave our hero, satisfied that he will bob up 
again in the future and encounter more adventures in 
this memorable campaign. 

Let us then step outside the walls of Badajoz, 
walls conquered at huge sacrifice by the British, 
and after the most gallant fighting. For it will 
already have been gathered that this Peninsula cam- 
paign was full of incidents, all of which the space at 
our disposal prevents our mentioning. In the cir- 
cumstances it will be readily understood that with 
troops operating here and there over a wide stretch 
of country there were numerous affairs, some mere 
skirmishes, some approaching a big engagement, 



Round about Badajoz 285 

which, while they each and every one undoubtedly 
helped on the end at which our leaders aimed, and 
are with equal certainty recorded in official histories, 
yet for the purposes of this narrative are of small 
account. 

Beginning in 1808, as already recorded, this me- 
morable campaign had at first seen a succession of 
commanders sent by the vacillating Ministry in Eng- 
land, and of these the great Wellington alone re- 
mained, having proved his right to lead our armies. 
Those momentous months since the opening of the 
campaign had witnessed, as the reader will remember, 
the dismissal of the French from Portugal and the 
advance of our armies into Spain. The tragedy of 
Sir John Moore's retreat over the border had followed; 
and we have seen Wellington forced backward in 
Portugal itself, till the enemy held the country right 
down to the formidable heights of Torres Vedras. 
And then had come the turn of the tide. The vast 
masses of men controlled by Napoleon had been sent 
to the rightabout, and here, in the eventful year 181 2, 
we find Portugal once more swept clean of the enemy, 
and the important fortesses of Ciudad Rodrigo and of 
Badajoz in the hands of the British. The tide had 
turned, we say, and, like the energetic and astute 
leader he was, the great Wellington at once proceeded 
to follow up these successes, and to push on into the 
heart of Spain, with the one object of forcing the 
enemy finally to quit the Peninsula. 

But no narrative of the events which had already 



286 With Wellington in Spain 

happened would be complete without mention of a 
force, subtle enough and slow to be seen at first, 
which was now steadily aiding the efforts of our 
soldiers. Despite the criminal neglect of our am- 
bassador in Madrid, despite, too, the wicked oppo- 
sition and folly of the Spanish Junta in particular, 
and in smaller measure of the Portuguese Junta, both 
of which bodies had persistently opposed each and 
every aim of the British, our armies had fought and 
won. Often enough the gallant, thin red line had 
been basely left by the fleeing troops of Portugal and 
Spain to face the onslaught of Napoleon's trained 
battalions. And yet that thin red line of gallant 
souls had conquered. Their persistence, their cheer- 
ful bravery in the face of enormous odds, and their 
bull-dog, strenuous fighting had told its tale on the 
masses of the enemy. Scepticism as to their worth 
as soldiers, a scepticism natural, perhaps, to troops 
highly trained, and till then victorious in all direc- 
tions, had been changed to hearty respect, if not to 
actual fear. That feeling of respect engendering 
fear and caution alone was the subtle force now 
aiding our armies. Each man, whether officer or 
private, had the utmost confidence in his leaders 
and in his comrades; while the French, bearing the 
late prowess of the British in mind, wondered whether 
success were now as certain as they had imagined. 
Who knows? The persistent advance of our armies, 
the skill of our leaders, and the bull-dog courage of 
our men may well have had their effect upon the 



Round about Badajoz 287 

great Napoleon himself. Accustomed to see his arms 
successful in every venture, he found in the British 
a foe who knew no defeat, and who pressed him al- 
ways. For the Portuguese this restless Emperor may 
have had some respect; for the Spanish he had only 
hatred, since their determination not to accept his 
brother as their king, and their incessant rioting and 
attacks upon his soldiers had caused him trouble and 
anxiety. Now there were the British to deal with. 
British opposition had wrested Portugal from the all- 
conquering Emperor of France. She was now thrust- 
ing her way into the heart of Andalusia. That meant 
further strenuous fighting, and if past records were to 
be repeated, it meant further British victories, in spite 
of the mass of Napoleon's armies. Who knows, then, 
we suggest, that this fear may have weighed with the 
restless Emperor of the French, with the ambitious 
and avaricious little corporal? To be balked in his 
wishes was with him ever, as with all such men, 
galling in the extreme. Here, in the Peninsula, our 
coming and our intervention had resulted in tremen- 
dous efforts on the part of Napoleon, efforts set aside 
by Wellington's armies. And now the tide had 
turned. What wonder if Napoleon, realizing that 
here he was on the verge of a defeat, turned his eyes 
to other conquests? Whatever the cause, Russia now 
attracted the attention of the Emperor. He had ridden 
posthaste for Paris. France, groaning already be- 
neath the weight of taxation necessary to maintain 
such huge armies in the field, was being bled still 



288 With Wellington in Spain 

further, both in money and men, to provide another 
army of conquest. Troops were already massing on 
the borders of Russia, and soon was to arrive that 
calamity which will always hold a prominent place in 
the histories of the world. For Napoleon was march- 
ing to defeat. The plains of Russia were to see 
his armies swept almost out of existence, while the 
crops now ripening at the beginning of summer, a 
summer which Wellington in Spain had determined 
to make the greatest use of, were to flare up before 
Napoleon's troops could lay their hungry hands on 
them. Moscow, the city of promise, the magnet 
drawing the ambitious and reckless Emperor to de- 
struction, was to burn before his eyes, and thereafter 
snow and frost and desperate hunger were to fight 
his armies silently, while Cossacks in their thousands 
hung like a swarm of flies about the flanks, slaughter- 
ing the helpless. 

But we are forestalling events. Napoleon had left 
the Peninsula for other and, as he imagined no 
doubt, easier conquests, leaving his generals in Spain 
the difficult task of driving out a British army which, 
with few exceptions, had proved itself absolutely in- 
vincible. 

Portugal was entirely in the hands of the British. 
Spain was beckoning strongly. Wellington, gather- 
ing his faithful and war-worn troops about him, was 
about to plunge into the heart of Andalusia, and, 
quitting the siege of fortresses, was eager to try con- 
clusions with the enemy in the open. But he was 



Round about Badajoz 289 

ever a careful man, and as a preliminary to invasion 
and attack upon the Duke of Ragusa he planned the 
destruction of the bridge erected at Almarez, span- 
ning the Tagus, and protected by forts immensely 
strengthened by the French. Here were known to 
be collected huge stores of ammunition, while the 
bridge itself served as a means of communication be- 
tween one French army and another. With the 
crossing destroyed, Wellington might hope to throw 
himself upon the enemy with good chance of success ; 
for by keeping the various forces of the enemy apart 
he might reasonably expect to beat them in detail, 
victory against the vast masses of French when com- 
bined being out of the question. Thus Almarez and 
the bridge spanning the historic Tagus now attracted 
his attention, as well as the formidable forts erected to 
protect the same. 

Let us describe in a few words the condition of the 
surrounding country. From Almarez itself to the city 
of Toledo the left bank of the River Tagus is hemmed 
in by a range of steep mountains. From Almarez 
again to the Portuguese frontier, roads in those days 
were almost non-existent, and the crossing in any 
case most difficult; while farther east the bridges at 
Arzobispo and Talavera were covered by the neigh- 
bouring high ground. 

The River Tagus itself separated the armies of 
Soult and of Marmont, and, seeing that Soult's pon- 
toon train had been captured in Badajoz, there was 
left no other means of communicaton between the 

(C570) 19 



2go With Wellington in Spain 

armies than the bridge of boats at Almarez, which 
the critical eye of Wellington had already selected for 
destruction. But, as we have hinted, there were diffi- 
culties in the way; for in view of the importance of 
the place, and of the mass of stores of one sort or 
another concentrated there, the French had made 
every preparation to protect the bridge. A fort had 
been erected on the north bank, another at the oppo- 
site end of the bridge, while the heights immediately 
adjacent on the latter side had been connected by a 
chain of works which a casual inspection would have 
said defied assault. Yet Wellington considered that 
Sir Rowland Hill, in command of a force 6000 strong, 
would contrive to overcome all difficulties, and that 
gallant officer promptly marched from the camp which 
the British had now formed, for since the fall of 
Badajoz our forces had marched north to the Tagus, 
and had crossed the river. A small expeditionary 
arm was therefore within striking distance of the all- 
important crossing at Almarez. Secrecy, as in the 
case of the descents on Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, 
was essential in this adventure, and Sir Rowland, 
therefore, marched at night-time, secreting his whole 
force in the wood of Jarciejo during the day, this wood 
being in the immediate neighbourhood of the enemy. 
Then his men were divided into three columns, and in 
the early hours, while darkness yet hid the land, they 
set out upon an expedition destined to prove amongst 
the most brilliant of any recorded during this long 
campaign in the Peninsula. For the plans of generals, 



Round about Badajoz 291 

like those of other more humble individuals perhaps, 
are destined at times to be overthrown, and here was 
an example. That secrecy at which Sir Rowland 
Hill aimed was destroyed by a combination of cir- 
cumstances, so that the garrisons of the forts about 
to be attacked became aware of his intentions. Yet 
the work was done, and done brilliantly, though 
only at a heavy sacrifice. The forts were taken, the 
bridge secured, while the losses of the enemy were 
very heavy. Then, expedition being an essential 
point, mines were laid, and the works, or a portion 
of them, destroyed. When Sir Rowland returned to 
Wellington's camp he was able to report the success 
of the expedition, while Wellington himself was now 
able seriously to consider the question of an attack 
upon the enemy in the open ; for the first step toward 
that effort had been taken. Easy communication be- 
tween the enemy was destroyed, and now had come 
the opportunity to seek out and beat in detail the 
armies of Napoleon. 

Forward, then, was the order, and 21st July, 181 2, 
found Wellington and his army north of the Tagus, 
close to Salamanca and to the Rivers Tormes and 
Huebra, having meanwhile cleared the intervening 
country and besieged the Salamanca forts. Marmont, 
with his French battalions, now lay before him; for 
they had crossed the river between Huerta and 
Tormes, and were endeavouring to secure the road 
to Ciudad Rodrigo. However, if Wellington, as a 
clever tactician, as he undoubtedly was, had as his 



292 With Wellington in Spain 

object the division of the enemy's forces, with a view 
of beating them in detail, Marmont also was not un- 
skilful. Remembering the comparative paucity of the 
British troops, and the fact that they had, as it were, 
burned their boats behind them, he hoped to throw 
his troops between our regiments and the fortress 
of Ciudad Rodrigo, then garrisoned by British, thus 
not only cutting communication between Wellington 
and the fortress, but also drawing a line of fire and 
steel between the British and Portugal, to which coun- 
try they would naturally retreat in case of defeat or 
in the event of huge odds being concentrated against 
them. 

Thus, having brought our gallant fellows face to 
face with an equally gallant enemy in the open, and 
having reviewed the movements of this difficult and 
complex campaign, we can leave the two rival armies 
in position for battle, and can once more seek out 
Tom Clifford, commander of the composite force of 
Portuguese and Spanish guerrillas, which, amidst a 
host of irregular British allies — some good, some 
indifferent, and some altogether useless and even 
dangerous — had already earned a name for energy 
and a patriotic spirit worthy of emulation amongst 
many chicken-hearted countrymen. Back, then, to 
Badajoz, let us retrace our steps, and, accepting the 
salutes of the Spanish and Portuguese sentries — smart 
fellows both — hammer on the door of the courtyard 
and enter, there to be greeted by the faithful Howeley 
and Andrews, 



Round about Badajoz 293 

Some weeks had passed since Tom had joined the 
forlorn hope, and had been blown like a stone down 
the steep scarp of the breach effected by our gunners. 
He sat in an armchair, his feet on a stool, Jack Bar- 
wood discussing matters with him, and at the same 
time smoking a pipe which he had secured in the 
dwelling. 

"Of course," Tom was saying in his business-like 
way, "orders are orders. But " 

" They're a beastly nuisance for all that. Granted," 
was Jack's interruption. " Well?" 

"And, equally of course, must be obeyed. 'Pon 
my word, Jack, you seem to be as keen as I am on 
this quest. What's it to do with you, anyway?" 

"Nothing; everything." Jack took a heavy pull 
at his pipe, choked suddenly, and then glared at the 
pipe as if it had done him a mischief. 

"Awful country," he grumbled. "Decent food 
ungetable, decent beds unknown. Tobacco — ugh! 
it'd sicken a Billingsgate porter! But this business 
interests me. Why? you ask. Here's why. Fair 
play is a thing I like; foul play gets up my dander. 
Of course I know the whole story now. This cousin 
chap first took food and lodging from your father 
and pretended gratitude; then he managed to work 
things so as to have you impressed. There I owe 
him a grudge; for if he hadn't, where should I be, 
eh?" 

" Eh?" repeated Tom, a little puzzled. 

" That's just it," went on the ensign in an aggrieved 



294 With Wellington in Spain 

tone of voice. " Who'd have had the command of 
those French troopers? Who'd have brought them 
through that mess? Who'd now be promoted to the 
command of a regiment of guerrillas?" 

He might have been the most injured of individuals, 
to look at him. Jack rose to his feet and bashed the 
offending pipe heavily on a table. And then he 
grinned at Tom. 

"My uncle!" he exclaimed; "you are a flat! 
Yes, even if you are my superior, I can call you that. 
Took everything I said as if it were meant seriously. 
Where should I have been, eh? Dead, Tom — dead 
as a bullock. Shot outside that Portuguese church, 
and cA to mincemeat by those rascals. But this 
business of yours interests me solely because you 
happen to be a pal of mine, and in my opinion very 
much injured. This Jose is a scoundrel. What's 
more, I believe him to be at the bottom of all these 
troubles. He's that spy, sir, I declare! He's the 
very same scoundrel who crept in here with the idea 
of doing you a mortal mischief. There, think it out, 
and don't wonder if I am a little interested in this 
curious and blackguardly mystery." 

Could this really be the case? Was Jose de 
Esteros not only the rascal who had caused Tom's 
impressment, as we know, and Tom and his friends 
now knew, to be the case; but also, was he the 
treacherous ruffian who had been feeding the enemy 
with news of Wellington's movements, whose mes- 
senger our hero had displaced outside Ciudad Rod- 



Round about Badajoz 295 

rigo? Could Tom's cousin be the selfsame villain 
who had abducted his father and uncle, and who 
later on had endeavoured to creep into this house 
in Badajoz and murder the gallant officer so nearly 
killed in the storming? 

11 Humbug!" Tom declared, nursing the arm which 
he had worn in a sling since receiving his injuries. 
" I grant that Jose was the cause of my impressment. 
There I owe him a grudge, Jack." 

"Eh?" asked the adjutant, stoking his pipe with a 
finger and pulling at it vainly. " How?" 

"Been troubled with a certain Jack Barwood ever 
since," came the serious answer. And then Tom 
went off into roars of laughter, while Jack pretended 
indignation. 

" Granted that Jose was the cause of that portion," 
Tom continued. "We know he came to Oporto; 
there we lose sight of him. The spy comes on the 
scene. Granted here, again, that he it was who ab- 
ducted my father and uncle, for the note left was in 
the same handwriting as that other we secured out- 
side Ciudad Rodrigo; but that doesn't say that Jose 
was the spy, even if you argue that he has reasons 
for wishing to abduct my two relatives. Now, does 
it?" 

"But the handwriting? It's like his; you forget 
that." 

"I don't; I agree that, from what I can remember 
of it, there is a similarity. But I'm not by any means 
sure; besides, Jose couldn't be such a rascal." 



296 With Wellington in Spain 

Jack's reply was as emphatic as many others. 
" Stuff and nonsense!" he blurted out. "A man 
who tries to get rid of a cousin with whom he has 
lived all his life, as this fellow did, will take on any 
piece of rascality. Look at his actions on arrival at 
Oporto, and think of his cunning. My boy, this 
Jose's at the bottom of the whole matter, so keep 
your eye open." 

How Tom was to keep his eye open his adjutant 
failed to explain, nor was there any further evidence 
to convict Jose of this added piece of rascality. Tom 
was still in ignorance of the personality of the spy 
whom he had traced to Oporto, and thence to 
Badajoz. He knew that the man was responsible for 
the abduction of Septimus and Don Juan de Esteros. 
But was Jose the spy? Was the spy the man who 
had crept into these quarters in Badajoz with the 
obvious intention of slaying Tom, and, if so, what 
was his object? 

4 * It's Jose all the time," declared Jack, cocksure of 
the fact. 

" Doubtful," repeated Tom, still refusing to believe 
his cousin capable of such villainy. " But leave it at 
that. The fellow's gone, and taken with him his two 
captives; the next thing to do is to follow." 

" Wrong; the next move is to obey orders." 

Jack had become a very useful adjutant by now, 
and showed his promptness by handing Tom the 
orders which lay upon the table. Our hero almost 
ground his teeth as he read them; for there, in black 



Round about Badajoz 297 

and white, were definite commands for the regiment 
to march for the Tagus, and there join hands with 
Wellington's army. Never, in fact, had orders been 
worse received. Hitherto Tom had been the first to 
welcome them ; now they came between him and pri- 
vate business. 

"But duty first," he told himself. "We'll march 
before the week's out, for those are the instructions. 
Meanwhile we've at least heard something. Read the 
report again," he said, signing to his friend. 

Jack picked up a paper, and promptly obliged him. 
"Here we are," he said. "Alfonso reports that fol- 
lowing orders he has continued to patrol the sur- 
roundings of the fortress. A covered carriage was 
driven out just before dusk last evening. It was 
stopped and found to be empty. The driver stated 
he was going to a country place to fetch in an in- 
valid. Later, when the carriage was well beyond our 
circle, it stopped beside a convoy of carts going from 
the fortress. Sharp questioning of the man in charge 
brought the admission that men were hidden among 
the contents of the carts, two of whom were bound 
and gagged. They were placed in the carriage, 
which was instantly driven away down the road, and 
when our men arrived was out of hearing. Though 
they searched, it was in vain. The scoundrel had 
got away with his captives." 

"And then?" asked Tom, listening without sign of 
emotion. 

"Close enquiries here discovered the fact that a 



298 With Wellington in Spain 

carriage had been hired to take a gentleman to 
Madrid. That's all." 

That indeed was all the information that our hero 
or his friends had been able to come by. The 
strenuous efforts and the danger which Tom had 
incurred in endeavouring to make an early entry into 
Badajoz had resulted in nothing. The miscreant who 
gave information to the enemy had slipped out with 
his captives, and there were our heroes none the 
nearer to success. They were farther off, in fact, for 
there, on the table, were orders taking them north to 
the Tagus, while it seemed likely enough that Tom's 
father and uncle had been hurried east to Madrid, 
where search for them, if ever the opportunity came, 
would be long and difficult. 

" Can't be helped. When orders allow, we'll make 
a rush for the city," said Tom. " Meanwhile, it's off 
to the Tagus!" 

"To join the army again — hooray!" shouted Jack. 
"That means a big general engagement; it means 
fighting, my boy! Perhaps it'll give us both pro- 
motion." 

Hard knocks, wounds, and exposure were more 
likely to be their portion. But what did these two 
young officers care? What would other officers of 
a similar age in these days care? Nothing. Rather 
they were elated at the prospect of taking a share in 
a pitched battle, and had not so much as a qualm 
when at length they reached the neighbourhood of 
Salamanca. As for their men, confident now of their 



Round about Badajoz 299 

ability to fight, proud of what they had already done, 
they marched to their allotted quarters in the camp 
with a tramp and a swing that commanded atten- 
tion. 

" General Lord Wellington's compliments," began 
a staff officer, galloping up just as Tom had inspected 
his men, and had called upon Jack to dismiss the 
parade. "Are you Lieutenant Clifford?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Then have the goodness to ride over to head- 
quarters at once; his lordship desires to see you." 

"Hooray!" cried Jack, careless of decorum, hurry- 
ing up at the moment. "That'll mean business, 
my boy. The general's got a special job for our 
guerrillas." 

And Wellington had. When Tom had been 
ushered into the tent which housed the leader of the 
British army he found that painstaking individual 
seated on a camp stool carefully measuring distances 
on a map stretched on a table before him. Tom stood 
stiffly at attention, and though the staff officer who 
ushered him twice called his name, there was no 
answer. Then suddenly a point of the compasses 
was struck into the map and an exclamation escaped 
the general. 

" If he moves there, we have him," he cried. " Then 
all depends on the Spaniards. Ah!" He shut the 
map hurriedly, and looked at Tom as if he thought 
him to be a suspicious person. Then, recognizing 
him, he smiled. 



300 With Wellington in Spain. 

"The officer the French will not fight, " he said 
cheerfully. "The Englishman they did their best 
to destroy in the breaches at Badajoz. You are re- 
covered, sir?" 

"Perfectly," Tom hastened to assure him, fearful 
that a fancied weakness might cause the general to 
choose another officer for any special work he might 
have in prospect. 

" And will accept a special risk?" 

Tom drew himself up stiffly. With anyone else 
there would have been a note of injury in the answer; 
for had he shirked special risk in the past? Ciudad 
Rodrigo was a telling answer to such a question. 
And Wellington realized the fact as soon as he had 
spoken. 

"I take it for granted that you are more than 
ready," he said. "Good! Then the mission I have 
is somewhat similar to that other. You saw me close 
this plan hurriedly? I did it unknowingly, impelled 
by the fear that you might be a stranger; for here 
is my story. Maps and plans jealously guarded by 
us have disappeared, my dispatch case has been 
broken open. My officers have information that 
there is a small gang of rascals who trade on our 
secrets. I want to bring that gang to book, if it 
exists. Now, Mr. Clifford, once more I make no 
suggestions, and give no orders. You will act as 
you think best. After to-morrow you are free to carry 
out whatever seems best to you. Remember, after 
to-morrow." 



Round about Badajoz 301 

That was all. Tom found himself outside the tent, 
still saluting. 

" A pretty job to unravel," he told himself. " And 
what's on to-morrow?" 

Yes, what was to happen when the day broke once 
more across the smooth surface of the River Tormes? 

There was to be war, real war, war in the open, the 
like of which Tom had never before witnessed. 



CHAPTER XVI 

The Battle of Salamanca 

The gentle tinkle of convent bells, the lowing of dis- 
tant oxen, and the cheery whistling and singing of 
the men of Wellington's ist Division awakened Tom 
on the morrow of his arrival in the neighbourhood 
of Salamanca. He shook off his blanket and rose, 
stretching himself, then inhaled the balmy summer 
air, and enjoyed the hazy view over the heights of the 
Arapiles, a precipitous part adjacent to the city, and 
split into two portions, known as the Sister Arapiles. 

A thousand bivouac fires were smoking, a thousand 
and more busy cooks struggled to prepare the rations 
for the day, while soldiers came and went carrying 
ammunition, food, fodder, and water, or leading long, 
roped lines of horses up from the river. 

What a bustle there was about the camp, what 

order and method, and what cheerfulness. A band 

was playing over by the headquarters tent, above 

which flew General Lord Wellington's flag. A 

battery of guns went trundling by, the men in their 

shirt sleeves, for they were merely taking up another 

position, and the business of the day had not begun. 

And yonder were the enemy, some 42,000 strong, 

m 



The Battle of Salamanca 303 

with 74 guns, with cavalry and every branch which 
goes to the completion of an army. Already these 
thousands were astir; the French bivouac fires had 
been stamped out, and the morning meal eaten. 
There came the blare of trumpets across the breeze, 
drowning the peaceful tinkle of the convent bells 
and the pleasant lowing of cattle. Drums rattled 
away in the far distance, while dust began to rise 
over road and plain, as the battalions of the enemy 
marched hither and thither to take up their posts 
for the coming conflict. For a battle was imminent. 
Wellington with much patience and forethought had 
prepared the way for it. He had cleared Portugal 
of the foreign invader. He had captured Ciudad 
Rodrigo and Badajoz, but at what cost and suffer- 
ing! That last manoeuvre had wrecked the bridge 
at Almarez, and had destroyed the huge stores col- 
lected there by the enemy. But now he was face to 
face with one of their armies, Marmont's, the Duke 
of Ragusa, and was eager to try his strength with 
them, while they, to do them justice, were just as 
ready. 

" Mr. Clifford, commanding the composite regiment 
of Portuguese and Spanish irregulars? " 

The staff officer reined in his mount at Tom's feet 
and saluted. 

"Here, sir." 

"You will see that your men draw rations, and 
take their water bottles filled, also ammunition ; then 
march for General Pack's brigade and report to him. 



304 With Wellington in Spain 

They are over there; you can see the dark uni- 
forms." 

He galloped away without waiting for Tom to reply, 
and they saw him racing across to headquarters. 
Other aides-de-camp were cantering from that same 
place, and in a little while bugles and drums were 
sounding amidst the British lines, while men were 
falling in by regiments. 

"Parade present and correct, sir," reported Jack, 
riding up as Tom clambered into his saddle. 

"Keep them as they are then, Mr. Barwood," 
came Tom's most polite answer; for on duty there 
was no joking between these two young officers. 
"I'll say a few words to them first, before we move 
off. We've to join General Pack's Portuguese 
brigade, so our fellows will be fighting alongside 
their countrymen to-day." 

"Yes, sir; and they'll show 'em the way." 

"And cover themselves with credit. They look 
well," reflected Tom, as the two rode on to the ground 
in front of their little corps, and drew rein some few 
paces from them. "Smart; no doubt about it. 
Don't see a sign of funking." 

" No, sir. Shall I call up the other officer and our 
non-coms?" 

" Please, and quickly with it." 

Alfonso halted before our hero, his face brimming 
over with enthusiasm. He saluted, and waited. 
Then came Andrews and Howeley, both old soldiers; 
for there was none of your short service then. The 



The Battle of Salamanca 305 

men of the British army, whether recruits or old 
stagers, filled their breeches and jackets, and gave 
good measure round calf and thigh and chest. The 
two riflemen were fine specimens of the 6oth, and, 
being detached from their corps, seemed to hold them- 
selves all the better, as if to let all and sundry see 
what a rifle regiment could do for its members. 

"We join Pack's brigade," explained Tom. 
" They're posted about the centre and are likely to 
be in the thick of it. I want you all to remember 
that this corps must set an example. We must hold 
the men together. If others of the irregulars bolt 
before the enemy, we won't have the same said of our 
fellows. Now, men," he called out. " A word before 
we march. There's the enemy before you, yonder is 
General Pack's brigade of Portuguese. We go to 
join them; let every man remember how this corps 
has behaved in the past. Hold firmly together and 
keep your wits about you. Your courage I know 
you will hold, for that you have proved already. 
For the rest, keep your eyes on your officers, and 
recollect that when the press comes, if come it does, 
you are fighting for home and country." 

A British regiment would have cheered the strangely 
youthful-looking staff officer. The mixed guerrillas 
from the hilltops of Spain and Portugal stared at him 
hard. There was a set expression on every bronzed 
face, a hard gripping of muskets, and a swinging of 
all eyes over to the enemy. And then came the word 
to march. They stepped out briskly. Heads erect, 

(0 570) 20 



306 With Wellington in Spain 

muskets at the trail, their commander leading them, 
the little corps advanced to take its part for the first 
time in a general action. Nor did its smartness pass 
unobserved. 

"What corps is that?" demanded the great Well- 
ington, ever observant, his eyes in all directions. 
" All dressed in blue, I think, and — yes, some wear- 
ing the red cockade of Spain. What corps, please?" 

" Mr. Clifford's, sir; recruited on the borders, and 
composed of 300 Portuguese and as many Spanish 
hillmen. The only corps where the two nationalities 
have worked in friendship with one another. They 
were in that Ciudad Rodrigo affair, sir; also down at 
Badajoz." 

The spyglass flew to the general's eye, and for a 
while he watched the corps striding along. Then he 
eyed the young commander. 

"Good!" he exclaimed, thinking aloud. "They 
march like veterans. Their officer conducts himself 
like a tried general. There's no hurry about him, 
but slap-dash-up smartness. If they fight as they 
march we've something to boast of. And with such 
an officer my little mission is likely to receive 
attention." 

He shut the glass with a bang and went cantering 
off towards the heights of the Sister Arapiles, a bril- 
liant staff trailing out behind him. As for Tom, he 
held on his way without swerving. Now passing 
between halted regiments, now halting his own com- 
mand to allow of the passage of a battery or more 



The Battle of Salamanca 307 

of guns, which went by at a trot, obliterating all 
about them in the clouds of dust tossed up by the 
wheels and the hoofs of the horses. Meanwhile the 
sun flashed in the distance from a forest of French 
bayonets, manoeuvring for position, marching this 
way or that, while a little later a battery took post 
away on the shoulder of one of the sister heights, 
smoke billowed from unseen muzzles, while shot tore 
through the summer air, and came bounding and 
ricochetting towards them. 

" Report, sir; General Wellington's orders," said 
Tom, halting his little corps to the front of Pack's 
brigade and reporting to that officer. 

"Ah! Reinforcements or reserve!" came the 
answer, while the gallant general smiled a welcome. 
"Smart men yours, sir. Name, may I ask, please?" 

"Clifford, sir, General Lord Wellington's staff, 
seconded for service with irregulars." 

And then the smile on the general's face broadened. 
He gripped Tom's hand warmly. "Ah! The twins, 
I know," he cried gaily. "The officer the French 
refuse to fight, eh?" 

Tom, with heightened colour, was forced to confess 
that it was so. Then he cast his eyes along the 
sitting lines of the Portuguese brigade, garbed in its 
blue, and wondered how these rough levies would 
conduct themselves. A moment later he was sitting 
erect to receive his orders. 

"March your command to our left, and fall in in 
rear, to act as a reserve with the companies already 



308 With Wellington in Spain 

detailed for that service. Smart men, Mr. Clifford, 
a smart lot of fellows!'' 

There were thousands of others in Pack's brigade 
who repeated that opinion; for, seeing that Tom's 
men were standing while the remainder of the brigade 
were sitting, they were the observed of all observers. 

"Halt! Dress on the right — smartly does it," 
came from Tom. 

"Smartly does it!" Jack roared in the stentorian 
voice becoming to an adjutant, and — we must confess 
it — with an accent which brought a whimsical smile 
to General Pack's face. 

"Lively with it, boys!" shouted Howeley and 
Andrews together, using a language half English, a 
little Portuguese, and the rest nothing in particular. 
" Lively does it! Dress up there on the left. 'Shun ! 
Stand at ease! Back there that swab away on the 
left." 

Rigidly erect, the toes of their English-made boots 
forming a line which would have drawn a note of 
approval even from the lips of a liverish martinet, 
Tom's men stood at attention, muskets at the shoulder, 
bayonets already fixed. And then, with a clatter, 
they sat down, having piled their weapons. 

"Two hours since we left camp; perhaps we'd 
better give 'em some grub," suggested Jack, peeping 
into his own haversack. For whatever may have been 
the duties of this ensign, he was still just the over- 
grown boy, always hungry, always ready for a meal. 

"Always growing, that's the reason," he had often 



The Battle of Salamanca 309 

explained. "Must have something at hand to build 
up an increasing framework." 

How those two hours had changed the July mor- 
ning! The sun swam redly overhead, approaching 
the vertical position; a few fine clouds flecked the 
sky ; while the heights, the distant cork forest shelter- 
ing the French battalions, still looked peaceful enough. 
But there was the roar of guns in many directions. 
Away behind Pack's brigade, posted on an eminence, 
and sheltered by the straggling buildings of a farm, 
was a British battery, busily pumping shot over the 
heads of the sitting brigade at an enemy then invisible 
to Tom and his comrades. The answering shot like- 
wise shrieked above the brigade, and more than once 
Jack pointed, while men scrambled to their feet and 
looked about them as if terrified. 

" Don't look well for later on," he jerked out crisply. 
" But you never know. Anyway, the bulk of them 
are taking matters coolly." 

No wonder the peace of the land about Salamanca 
was disturbed ; for to match the masses of the enemy 
Wellington had collected some 40,000 men, including 
3500 cavalry and 54 guns. These he had on this 
eventful day beneath his eye, cut up into divisions, 
and so placed that he could move his forces rapidly. 
His right rested on the foothills of the Sister Ara- 
piles, as yet unoccupied by our men, but at that 
moment being scaled by the French legions. His 
left extended to the River Tormes, while he himself 
passed this way and that, eagerly watching the move- 



310 With Wellington in Spain 

merits of the enemy. Marmont was even more busy 
than Wellington, and there is little doubt but that he 
hoped by this general action to smash the power of 
the commander who was now such a thorn in his side, 
and to cut him off from Portugal completely. His 
right manoeuvred persistently for the road to Ciudad 
Rodrigo, while his left marched on the Arapiles, and 
now occupied one of the heights. For the rest, his 
centre was masked by a cork wood, through the 
gaps in which came the reflections from the flashing 
bayonets of his battalions. 

A burst of firing echoed across the plain from the 
village of Arapiles, now occupied by our infantry. 
Flying figures were seen struggling down the heights 
and forming up at their base. Shot plunged over the 
heads of Pack's sitting brigade and smote those de- 
scending ranks. And then came the rattle of drums, 
the cheers of frantic men, a red flash as muskets were 
exploded, followed by the pitter-pat of independent 
firing. Crash! Bang! Those guns behind the farm 
pounded the advancing French, ploughing the ground 
about them. The cheers broke out even louder, and 
were drowned by a torrent of musketry which flashed 
round the post held by British infantry. 

The same scene, diversified a little, was happening 
away on our left, where our battalions manoeuvred 
against Marmont's, holding them back from that all- 
important road. Elsewhere, when not actively en- 
gaged, or making some countering move, troops sat 
down in their formation, men nibbled at their rations, 



The Battle of Salamanca 311 

while a squadron of horse slowly cantered across a 
dusty part, into which the enemy's cannon ball 
plumped in quick succession. Tom found himself 
actually feeling drowsy, Jack Barwood looked as if 
he could willingly drop off to sleep, while some of 
the regiment were stretched full length, their eyes 
tight closed, not even bothering to open them when 
there came a clatter near at hand and a ball trundled 
and roared past them. 

Down below those heights, to which we have re- 
ferred so often, sat Wellington, wearied with long 
watching and counter manoeuvring, dismounted now, 
his spyglass in his pocket, and himself seated at 
a midday meal, which he needed as much perhaps 
as any of his soldiers. For the moment he could do 
no more. He was merely watching and waiting. 
Thus he and his staff snatched a hasty meal, 
wondering what the result of the day was to be for 
them. Then came electrifying news — Marmont was 
extending his left. He was pushing his divisions 
up into the Arapiles, leaving his centre denuded, 
while right and left wings of his army were steadily 
getting farther and farther from one another. It was 
the moment for which Wellington had been waiting; 
it was the moment of all others in which to strike. 
That critical stage in the coming contest had arrived 
where one leader, in this case Marmont, attempts too 
great a task; while his opponent, watching him like 
a cat, sees the error, realizes the opportunity, and 
sends his men headlong to make the most of it. 



312 With Wellington in Spain 

There, in fact, as Wellington looked through his 
spyglass, were the divisions forming the French left 
separated from their centre ; while, in addition to this 
attempted enveloping movement, Marmont was still 
manoeuvring his right, so as to close the road to 
Ciudad Rodrigo. Here, in fact, if we look closely 
into the circumstances, was an example of divided 
force, that for which Wellington was ever seeking. 
His acuteness, and the strenuous fighting of his 
men, had separated Marmont from other French 
armies. Now Marmont's own dispositions had sepa- 
rated his left wing from its centre and right, and at 
this precise moment the opportunity had come to beat 
his army in detail. 

Pakenham's 3rd Division was seated about our 
general. He had been lunching with its officers, 
Pakenham being his own brother-in-law. Instantly 
he gave this gallant leader orders, and at once the 
men of the 3rd Division were on their feet. For- 
ward they charged against the left wing on the slope 
of the Sister Arapiles. Batteries thundered against 
them; muskets sent a stinging hail of bullets against 
the face of the charging division ; while cavalry 
emerged from a fold in the ground and charged 
madly for the advancing British. But none could 
stay that gallant division. The men swept cavalry 
aside. They laughed at bullets and cannon shot. 
Leaving a thick trail of killed and wounded, they 
pressed the charge home, came to handgrips with 
the enemy, and then attacked them with the bayonet. 



The Battle of Salamanca 313 

"Let them loose!" cried Pakenham; and at the 
command the Connaught Rangers, ever a fine fight- 
ing corps, was sent into the midst of the thick masses 
of Marmont's left wing. 

' ' Magnificent but dreadful!" cried Tom, a witness 
from the plain of the whole scene. "Look; our 
fellows are crumpling the enemy's left wing up! 
Our colours are right alongside theirs, with the 
men fighting all round. It's a grand move- 
ment!" 

"The Portuguese brigade will fall in!" 

The command rang out over that portion of the 
ground where Tom and his men were stationed, and 
at once the men were on their feet. 

" Dress up there on the right. Back in the centre. 
Nicely does it, men! Ready and correct, sir." 

Jack Barwood, a grin of excitement on his face, 
rode up to Tom and reported the composite regiment 
to be ready. 

" March!" 

The brigade was in motion. Extending by bat- 
talions to left and right, its face was soon far wider 
than it had been. Pack led them direct to that Ara- 
pile height still held by Marmont, and known as 
Hermanito. Guns blazed and thundered at the 
Portuguese. Shot plunged through the ranks, sweep- 
ing men by half-dozens out of existence. Musket 
bullets began to sizzle and whip about the ears of 
the brigade, and fell even amongst the reserve march- 
ing some four hundred yards in rear. Tom's men 



314 With Wellington in Spain 

began to fall by the way. Was there a sign of 
flinching? 

"Good plucked 'uns, to the backbone," muttered 
Jack, at Tom's side now, his face eager and tense. 
" Our boys will do well, sir. What are the orders?" 

An aide-de-camp had just galloped round, and had 
shouted instructions to our hero. 

" We're to charge up behind the men and support 
any part where the enemy are pressing," he said 
shortly. " I'm going to move off to the side a little; 
as we are we get all the shots and balls which miss 
the brigade in advance, and that isn't business. To 
the left there are folds in the ground which will give 
us shelter. Look away up there at Pakenham's 3rd 
Division." 

The struggle was still progressing there, though 
the enemy's guns had ceased to thunder. Our scarlet- 
clad men could be seen mustering here and there, 
and, though Tom could not himself know what was 
happening, that mustering told its own tale. For 
Marmont's left wing, so recklessly moved away from 
the support of its centre and right, was conquered. 
Three thousand of the enemy were already prisoners, 
with two much-coveted eagles and eleven cannon. 
The rest were scattered, some still contesting the 
ground, while the remainder had taken to their 
heels. Indeed, all eyes were now on Pack's brigade. 

' * Charge ! Up the hill and at them ! " 

The command rang out in Portuguese, and at once 
the irregulars stormed the height, their muskets at 



The Battle of Salamanca 315 

the trail, their bayonets already fixed. Ah, they 
were close to the summit! Breathless with the 
climb, but eager for the conflict, they cheered as 
they gained the height. Then there came the roar 
and crackle of musketry. Twelve hundred French 
infantry emptied their muskets into the charging 
host and came at them with fixed bayonets — fresh 
men against men blown after a stiff climb. There 
was the crash and clank of crossing weapons, and, 
later, cries of terror. Dismayed by the enemy's 
charge, straggling as is the case with infantry after 
a stiff climb, the Portuguese in engagement with 
Marmont's men turned tail and fled down the hill, 
exposing the 4th Division on its flank to the attack 
of the enemy. Instantly French regiments poured 
up, guns crashed out, while a hail of musketry was 
sent against that division by the ranks of the French. 

" Double!" commanded Tom, emerging with his 
men a few moments earlier from a convenient and 
merciful fold in the ground, and realizing instantly 
what had happened. " Double up there and cover 
the flank of the 4th Division. Now, halt!" 

It took ten minutes perhaps to get into position, 
and all the while the enemy were advancing at a 
run to take the 4th Division in flank. But Tom's 
men were there before them, and, at his shrill 
whistles, at once broke up into squares of double 
companies, one Portuguese and one Spanish being 
now associated together in all manoeuvres. 

" Wait for the word to fire!" bellowed Tom, while 



316 With Wellington in Spain 

Jack, and Alfonso, and Andrews, and Howeley re- 
peated the order in stentorian tones. " Fire by- 
squares! Be ready to charge!" 

Pandemonium reigned about them. A mass of 
cavalry swung of a sudden round the shoulder of the 
hill, and, skirting the French battalions, launched 
itself against Tom's devoted squares. Crash ! Bang ! 
A blaze of flame swept in their faces. Horses reared 
and fell with their riders. A thousand desperate 
troopers galloped at the squares, slashing and cut- 
ting. Crash! Bang! The muskets flashed redly; 
the bullets tore through the scattered ranks of the 
cavalry. 

"Load! Stand ready there. Ah! Reserves are 
coming up. That must be the 5th Division. Men 
of the composite regiment, stand firm and you will 
have saved the position here. Ready? Then for- 
ward." 

The three squares advanced steadily against the 
advancing French. Men fell here and there, but 
their places were instantly filled. The faces of the 
squares, presenting in this case but a narrowed angle 
to the enemy, swirled with fire and flame. Smoke 
hid the men from all observers, while a thunderous 
discharge came from their weapons. Then there 
followed the clink of ramrods. Bullets were driven 
home on powder and wads, primings were renewed, 
while flints were drawn back. Then again was re- 
peated the same thunder of muskets, the same red 
flaming flash, the same vomiting of sulphurous 



The Battle of Salamanca 317 

vapour. A minute later the 5th Division came 
panting up, and at once the enemy were pressed 
back. Steadily the advance was maintained, and 
presently the enemy were fleeing. 

" Form line!" bellowed Tom, standing in his stir- 
rups and waving his sword, all oblivious of the fact 
that a musket bullet had shattered the blade, leaving 
him with but six inches of steel clinging to the hilt. 
" Line up with the 4th Division. Forward!" 

" Forward!" shrieked Jack in his terrible Portu- 
guese. 

" Now's the time, me boys!" shouted Andrews, 
ever encouraging the men. 

On went the scarlet lines of British, with the thin 
blue line of Tom's irregulars wedged in between. 
Wellington himself came cantering up, for now had 
come the very crisis of the battle. The 6th Division 
doubled to the front with cheers of eagerness, while, 
away on the left of our line, troops until then hardly 
under fire went to the front. 

Slowly at first, and then more swiftly, the enemy's 
regiments were crumpled up. Marmont had by now 
been severely wounded, while successive generals 
had been placed hors de combat. Muddled by counter 
orders, therefore, and no doubt scared by the dash 
of our battalions, the enemy retired all along the 
line, and was soon in retreat, protected by strong 
rearguards and followed persistently over miles of 
country by our men. 

It would be impossible to detail every single combat 



318 With Wellington in Spain 

which followed. Gallant regiments on the side of 
the French stood fast, holding their ground while 
their comrades retired to safety. But as night fell 
all were in retirement, and here again were the plans 
of Lord Wellington upset by the very people who 
should have done their utmost to support him. For 
Marmont's army of the north was beaten. Capture 
of the survivors of this day's memorable fight would 
mean a French disaster, and to bring that about 
Wellington had long ago sent his Spanish irregulars 
to guard the fords across the River Tormes. Can 
we wonder that that at Alba was deserted by the 
cowardly Spanish as the French came near? And 
thereby a decisive defeat was lessened. By the next 
day, in fact, the French were across the river. 

But Salamanca was won. The northern frontier 
of Portugal was freed of the enemy, and now, when 
we advanced into Spain still farther, we had this to 
content us — there were none of the enemy in rear to 
cut our communications or to stampede our rear- 
guards. They were to our front, and no Britisher 
fears an enemy whom he can see plainly. 

But there were still rascals and traitors to be dealt 
with, as Tom was yet to learn. Not that he gave 
a thought to them. For on the evening of the battle, 
receiving an order from a galloping aide-de-camp, 
he halted his men and set them down for a breather. 
Then the sound of clattering hoofs came to his ears, 
and there rode out of the gathering gloom Lord 
Wellington himself, with a brilliant staff about him. 



The Battle of Salamanca 319 

He drew rein within ten feet of the corps, now di- 
shevelled and lessened sadly in numbers, but erect 
as ever, and dressed with that precision for which 
they had become notorious. 

"What corps?" asked Wellington, though he 
needed no information. 

"Lieutenant Clifford's, sir. Composite corps; 
half-Portuguese and half-Spanish." 

Tom's heart thudded as the general set his horse 
three paces forward. 

" Ah," he heard him say, " I felt sure it was they! 
Mr. Clifford." 

"Sir," answered Tom, lowering the hilt of his 
broken sword. 

" Mr. Barwood and the other officers, commissioned 
and non-commissioned," cried the general softly, 
causing all those individuals to come to the front. 

"Gentlemen," said Wellington, his tones not raised 
in the slightest, as if he were discussing a matter 
of little interest, and yet conveying by a subtle in- 
flection of his voice that it was no ordinary matter, 
"from the plain below we saw Pack's Portuguese 
turn tail and bolt. We saw the 4th Division heavily 
assailed. And then this corps was thrust into the 
gap. It was a brilliantly-conceived movement, and 
it helped to save a situation which was critical. The 
forming of the corps into squares was beyond all 
criticism. Mr. Clifford, you will be good enough 
to give my personal commendations to your men, 
whose bravery is a pattern for all their fellows. 



320 With Wellington in Spain 

Inform them that I hold them in great respect, and 
that since the respect of a commander is shown 
through his officers, who have done so well again, 
those officers' names will be sent to England in my 
dispatches. March your men back to their camp, 
please." 

Did the men of Tom's corps cheer? They shouted 
themselves hoarse after our hero had spoken to them. 
They trudged across the field strewn with killed and 
wounded with merry songs, and turned into their 
blankets when all was over as proud as any in Spain 
or Portugal. 

As for Tom, he was too fatigued to even think. 
Once his wounded were collected and his dead buried, 
a gruesome job for any commander, he dropped dead 
asleep in his blanket. He recked not of the work 
before him. His slumbering mind cared not a jot 
for the dangers of the task which his commander 
had given him. If there had been fifty spies to 
capture, if there had been fifty mysteries hanging 
about the persons of the rascal Jose and Tom's two 
relatives abducted from Oporto, that young fellow 
would still have slept. For he had fought his first 
big engagement. He had done strenuous work, and 
nature called aloud for repose for both body and brain 
before he took up other responsibilities. Till the 
morrow, then, we leave him till the rising sun awaked 
in his thoughts the memory of those urgent orders. 



CHAPTER XVII 

A Clue at Last 

Those 40,000 victorious men of Wellington's great 
army now had their backs to the Portuguese frontier 
and were marching gaily on Madrid. Away in front 
a half-battalion of infantry watched for the French 
and found no trace of them. The guard in rear had 
an easy time of it, for attack was not to be feared 
from that quarter; while the cavalry patrols on 
either flank reported a country clear of all but 
peasants. As for the road itself, it was littered with 
carts of every description, not the motor lorries which 
to-day have achieved a triumph, making light of the 
task of hauling the stores and impedimenta of an 
army, but with mule carts in endless array, and 
four-wheeled and two -wheeled vehicles with their 
teams of mules and their gaudily-hatted drivers. 

" Of all the aggravating, lazy beggars these are 
the worst I ever set eyes on," growled Jack Barwood, 
in command now of Tom's composite corps of Portu- 
guese and Spanish; for that young fellow himself, 
together with Alfonso his cousin, had departed on 
special service. And didn't the great Jack give him- 
self airs ! Riding at the head of the corps he looked 

(C570) 321 21 



322 With Wellington in Spain 

about him as does a conqueror. And these muleteers 
came in for his displeasure. 

" Straggling all over the road as usual. How's 
one to pass here?" he demanded of Andrews, who 
was marching beside him, and pointing to a batch 
of vehicles wedged in a rocky part of the road where 
a detour was almost impossible. 

" Move 'em, sir," came the answer, while the rifle- 
man suppressed a grin of amusement. Jack was a 
favourite with them all, but he sometimes excited 
their ridicule. He was different from the steady and 
yet dashing Tom. 

" Move 'em, sir, or interview one of these black- 
guards conducting the caravan. Look at the beggar 
nearest; stares at us as if we hadn't a right on the 
road, when we all know we're here to fight the 
Spaniards' own battles. Precious fine help they give 
us too! The only time they're out of the way is when 
fightin's wanted. Hi, you, you son of a gun, move 
along with you!" 

The individual in question, a beetle-browed young 
fellow, whose head was closely swathed in a bril- 
liantly-red handkerchief, and who dangled his som- 
brero from one hand, squatted on the shaft of the 
nearest waiting cart, puffing a cigarette and staring 
with insolent eyes at the commander of the irregulars. 

" Cheek!" exclaimed Jack. "The beggar looks at 
us as if we were trespassers. Haul him up, Andrews; 
we'll give him trespassers." 

Jack sought in the back of his mind for all the 



A Clue at Last 323 

Spanish he knew and burst into an un grammatical 
tirade when the muleteer was brought forward by 
Andrews. 

11 Hi, you!" said Jack haughtily; " hook it, double 
quick! You're keeping the duke's own corps of 
irregulars. Sheer out with your bothering carts or 
it'll be the worse for you." 

That was the substance of his speech, a speech 
that brought a supercilious grin from the young 
man. 

"St, senor" he said, " but there is time; there is 
always time." 

Jack gripped his meaning with difficulty, and then 
bubbled over with wrath. Had he commanded cavalry 
he would have been tempted to ride over the insolent 
fellow and his obstruction. As it was, he felt he could 
thrash the man with his whip. But such action was 
out of the question. Jack fumed and raged, while 
Andrews grinned secretly. As for the Spaniard, he 
returned to his cart, finished his cigarette, and then 
gave the order for the group of vehicles to move for- 
ward. But as soon as the corps of irregulars had 
passed he sent a messenger to call its commander. 

" Well?" demanded Jack haughtily, riding back, 
and meeting the man alone and well away from all 
others. "What fool's errand have you called me 
for?" 

"Gently does it, Jack. Gently! I'll be frightened," 
laughed the muleteer, in the purest English. " How 
are things going?" 



324 With Wellington in Spain 

The young leader of the composite corps nearly 
dropped from his horse, and then, bending low, 
stared at this stranger. 

" I'm blistered!" lie growled. " Am I standing on 
my head, or " 

" Don't get frightened," came the grinning an- 
swer. " It's Tom, right enough. I'm glad we've 
met, for it proves my disguise to be good. Not one 
of the men recognized me, and I gave 'em every 
chance; even Andrews was hoodwinked. How'll 
I do?" 

Jack could still have been levelled flat with the 
proverbial feather, for his chum had been absent 
from the camp exactly a week, and Alfonso with 
him. It had been given out that they had ridden 
for Oporto, and they had, in fact, taken the road for 
that place. But some miles from the camp both had 
stripped off their uniforms and had donned the dress 
worn by muleteers, of whom thousands were employed 
with both British and French armies. Then they 
had been joined by a faithful servant of Alfonso, one 
who accompanied him on this campaign, who handed 
over to the two lads half a dozen native carts, to- 
gether with their teams of mules. 

4 ' He'll stable our horses away on Father's estate," 
explained Alfonso. "We can stow our uniforms in 
two of the carts, and then, if we want to change back 
to ourselves at any time, we have the things near us. 
Now?" 

" Back to the camp," said Tom, "There we pick 




A CLEVER DISGUISE 



A Clue at Last 325 

up four of our fellows who were on the sick list till 
last week. They've been reported as fit only for light 
duty, and so, at my suggestion, are to be allowed to 
continue with the army as drivers. They're trusty 
fellows, and may be relied on not to give us away 
to friends or enemies. Back we go, Alfonso." 

As bold as brass — for the handkerchief swathed 
round the brows and the wide sombrero hat were 
disfiguring and an excellent disguise — the two drove 
their teams into camp, and bivouacked close to Tom's 
own regiment. And here they were, on the road, 
obstructing that same corps, and causing the irate 
and lofty Jack to bubble over. 

" Of all the blessed cheek!" he began to gasp, 
faintly recognizing Tom. " You gave me an awful 
start. To think of you being alongside us, giving 

me lip too. That beats everything. But what's 

up?" he demanded in a hoarse whisper, leaning over 
from his saddle. " What's this disguise for? And 
why march with the British army?" 

Tom waved him away. "Look out," he said 
hurriedly. "Those muleteers are looking this way. 
Pretend to row me; threaten me with your whip. 
I'll sneak away in the usual Spanish manner." 

Cunning eyes were, indeed, fixed upon them at 
that moment. A man amongst a batch of drivers 
passing with his team just then recognized Jack as 
the leader of irregulars, one with whom, had that 
young officer been able to guess it, he had already 
had dealings. But the scene immediately following 



326 With Wellington in Spain 

disarmed all suspicion. Jack raged at the man 
standing near him. His whip went up over his 
shoulder, and he slashed out fiercely, cleverly miss- 
ing his friend. As for Tom, he scowled and muttered 
loudly, while his hand went to an imaginary stiletto. 

"Draw your sword and skewer him if he shows 
fight," shouted a cavalry officer, also a witness of 
the scene, galloping up now. "Get back to your 
cart!" he commanded. 

Tom slank away, while Jack explained the in- 
solence of the man, getting advice born of long 
experience. 

"They're the biggest set of thieving, murdering 
rascals I ever set eyes on," declared the officer, "and 
would knife one as soon as eat a dinner. I never 
allow 'em to answer. I'm fair and square and kind 
when things are right, but if there's disobedience, 
or treachery, or insolence in the air, I go for 'em red- 
headed, red-headed me boy, and knock the courage 
clean out of the rascals. I know; I've been on trans- 
port duty in this country in the early days of the cam- 
paign, and I've learned that firmness, and violence 
too, sometimes, are necessary." 

There was a grin of amusement on Tom's face as 
he returned to the carts, while the seemingly sleepy 
eyes of his fellow muleteers twinkled. Whether our 
hero and his cousin had embarked upon a fool's chase 
or not it was impossible to say; but this was certain, 
occupying a false position as they did, where the 
piercing of their disguise by comrade or enemy 



A Clue at Last 327 

would be equally disastrous to their scheme, they 
still had everything in their favour. Those men 
were oysters; not one knew anything. They had 
taken service with the chief muleteer, he with the 
bright handkerchief about his head, and that was 
all. His name? No — that they had not heard. 
His age? They shrugged their shoulders. What 
did age matter in a country where time was of no 
consequence? Then he loved the English? Another 
shrug. Perhaps; who could say? He had had a 
fierce altercation with one of their officers that very day. 

" A lucky meeting it was, too," declared Tom to his 
cousin, when they were tucked in their cart that night, 
secure from eavesdroppers. " Every muleteer with 
our troops will hear the yarn before to-morrow's 
finished, and that's just what we want." 

M Want?" ejaculated Alfonso, with a lift of the eye- 
brows. 

" Yes, want." 

" But— why?" 

" Because we've thrashed this matter out, haven't 
we?" 

Alfonso assented, shrugging in his blankets be- 
cause the habit was too strong for him. "But," he 
said. 

"I'll explain. There are spies about, stealing 
Wellington's papers and plans." 

"Exactly." 

' ' And strangers with the troops are few and far 
between, and get spotted precious quickly. 



328 With Wellington in Spain 

"Granted— then?" 

"Then the spies are not strangers. They are to 
be found amongst men accustomed to be with the 
troops, non-combatants of course; for soldiers don't 
go in for such dirty business. So one looked round." 

"And pitched on the only possible people — mule- 
teers, the scum of the earth," declared Alfonso, 
with another shrug, which Tom found strangely dis- 
concerting. Who ever heard of a fellow who must 
needs shrug his shoulders in bed and in the dark- 
ness? 

"Drop that shrugging," he growled. "Upsets 
me. Well, there we are. We pitched on muleteers. 
To watch 'em properly we decided to join them our- 
selves." 

"And here we are — not that I grumble," said 
Alfonso, beginning another shrug and arresting it as 
Tom kicked savagely. " But rations might be more 
plentiful. Still, as you say, here we are; and here 
we stay, I suppose." 

" Till things turn up. I'm going to let it get about 
that we're discontented beggars. If there's a gang 
about, we may be invited to join. Who knows, 
through such a gang we might get hold of that fellow 
who captured your father and mine?" 

"Jose, eh?" asked his cousin. 

"Perhaps." 

"In any case the rascal we were after in Oporto, 
whose spy we captured going to Ciudad Rodrigo. 
That's the puzzle. We agree that it was he who 



A Clue at Last 329 

abducted our parents. But is he also Jose, and if so, 
or the reverse, is he associated with the ruffians who 
have been robbing the dispatch box of his lordship, 
the leader of this army?" 

There the puzzle was laid out in all its bareness and 
meagreness. There were links missing in the chain 
of flimsy evidence; but this was certain, both lads 
had lost a father while Jose was in the country. 

"Heigho! We'll leave the matter and get to 
roost," sighed Tom, for driving a team of fractious 
mules is no light task. " Things are going well, 
that's all. Something'll turn up presently." 

He was a cheery, optimistic young fellow, and 
soon dropped asleep ; for worry was of no use to our 
hero. The following day found him just as cheerfully 
helping the British army in his new and humbler 
way to advance to conquest. For Madrid was the 
goal; those three victories had, in fact, opened up the 
heart of Andalusia. Ciudad Rodrigo and its capture 
against strenuous difficulties had shown the French 
that we were out for business, and the fall of Badajoz 
had set a laurel about the brows of the British regi- 
ments. None doubted now that even when skill did 
not count, bull-dog courage was one of their cherished 
possessions. Moreover, Salamanca had cast a shade 
over the French invaders of the Peninsula. Almarez, 
and the destruction of those forts, the bridge, and 
the vast stores of the enemy were but an incident, if 
one of utmost importance, in this third victory; that 
week of crafty manoeuvring near the road to Ciudad 



330 With Wellington in Spain 

Rodrigo, with its attendant little actions and skir- 
mishes, but a forecast of what was to follow. It was 
the stand-up fight in the open, when British troops 
had been exposed to veterans of France, led by noted 
strategists, when our brave fellows had smashed 
the power of Marmont — and by manoeuvres vieing 
his in skill — that helped to send the enemy right- 
about, their faces set in the direction of France itself. 
The great king of Spain fled his capital. This 
Joseph, brother of the Great Napoleon, the "Little 
Corporal ", so fond of placing members of his own 
family on the thrones of Europe, had departed in 
haste from Madrid, while Soult marched to join 
hands with Suchet. There was evidence that the 
enemy were less assured than formerly. There was 
a decided inclination for forces to co-operate; for the 
lesson Salamanca had taught was salutary. The 
British troops were worthy of a greater respect than 
had hitherto been accorded. 

And so for a while we may leave Wellington and 
his army, satisfied that the conduct of affairs would 
be always careful. Our interest turns naturally to 
Tom, sleeping then beside his cousin. 

For three days they continued to march with the 
troops, and each succeeding one found them better 
acquainted with their fellow muleteers, and already 
earning the reputation of being discontented fellows. 

"Then you find fault with the work?" asked a 
bulky, stiff-necked Spaniard, with pock-marked face, 
who had once before accosted Tom. He it was, in 



A Clue at Last 



33 



fctct, who had so cunningly watched the altercation 
between our hero and Jack Barwood. 

"The work? That is good enough as work goes, 
friend," Tom answered sulkily; "but had I my way 
I would be back there at home lolling away my time. 
Who wants to work, and for these British? And 
then, think of the pittance we earn." 

Tom was romancing with a vengeance, for if any- 
one liked work it was he. To be idle with him, 
as with the majority of decent fellows, was to be 
supremely miserable. As for the pay, a British army 
has the reputation of being liberal, and Wellington's 
was no exception. 

"Ah!" exclaimed the bull-necked fellow, leering 
cunningly at Tom, and expectorating to a distance. 
"The British! I hate them as I hate the French. 
But as for pay, there are ways of getting rich even 
when one is only a muleteer." 

Tom pricked up his ears instantly. He had taken 
note of this thick-necked, stumpy fellow before, he 
with the pock-mark face, a face which even if it had 
not been marred by disease would still have been the 
reverse of attractive. 

"Getting rich? How?" he asked. 

"Ah! That's telling. But there are ways, easy 
ways, ways unknown to the others." 

"And there is good money in it, my friend?" 

" Doubloons in plenty, I tell you," came the slow 
answer, while the man looked about him craftily. 

"Come to my wagon," said Tom, at once, anxious 



332 With Wellington in Spain 

to allay any suspicions, and prepared to lead the man 
on. For here might be something in the nature of 
a clue. " I have a friend there who also would make 
money, if it is to be made readily. There is danger?" 

" Poof! Who thinks of danger when there is gold?" 
exclaimed the man loftily, though the flicker about 
his eyes belied his vaunted courage. "I will come 
gladly. You have a bottle of wine, perhaps. That 
would be interesting." 

Tom had a bottle of excellent stuff, as a matter of 
fact, and had obtained it with a view to a possible 
meeting of this sort. And, after all, the offer of a 
good glass of wine on a campaign such as that of 
the Peninsula was often more binding than a greater 
service. It followed that, within ten minutes, the 
three, this muleteer, Tom, and his cousin, were as 
bosom comrades, while before the fellow left he had 
made a cunning appointment. 

" Listen," he said, staring about him. "To- 
morrow we come to the city of Madrid. There I 
have friends, and you will meet them. I will give 
you the time and place of meeting. There you shall 
learn how money can be earned, and with such a 
spice of adventure about it that you will be charmed. 
Look for me to-morrow, then." 

" On the track at last," murmured Alfonso breath- 
lessly when the man was gone. "You think he is 
one of the gang, Tom?" 

"Certain. Can't say, of course, that he has had 
anything to do with Wellington's papers; but I 



A Clue at Last 



333 



guess that's the case. However, we shall soon know 
that. Still, this is equally certain : whatever this work 
may be, and spying has something to do with it, it's 
the merest toss-up that it can have any connection 
with our governors. Oporto's a long cry from 
Madrid; Badajoz ain't much nearer." 

Late on the following evening the troops reached 
the outskirts of Madrid, where Tom and his cousin 
parked their carts and secured their mules in the 
mule lines. 

" You will look after things while we are gone," 
said Tom, addressing one of the men with them. 
"We have information which takes us into the city 
to-night perhaps. That information might possibly 
keep us absent from the camp for some days, so do 
not be alarmed if we do not return. Carry on as if 
we were still present." 

An hour later the rascally-looking muleteer put 
in an appearance, and promptly cast his eyes upon 
the bottle of wine nestling in a corner of Tom's cart. 

"A fine evening, one on which you will pave the 
way to a fortune," he leered. " But hot, infamously 
hot; these August days are always sultry in this 
country." 

Tom poured him out a glass, and watched with 
feelings of loathing as the fellow gulped down the 
fluid. He was a scoundrel, of that he was sure, a 
thick-headed scoundrel to be so easily duped. For 
here he was about to introduce two comrades, of 
whom he had but little knowledge, to a group of 



334 With Wellington in Spain 

conspirators perhaps, and in any case to someone 
able and willing to pay for work not as a rule per- 
formed by muleteers. What was that work? 

" Spying — dirty work anyway," our hero growled 
to himself, for the thing was as foreign to his open- 
air, straightforward character as it could be. " But 
for the time being, at least, I'm prepared to be as 
great a spy and conspirator as any." 

" You are free to come?" leered the fellow, looking 
askance again at the bottle. Tom took the hint and 
refilled the glass. 

" Yes," he said coarsely, handing the wine over. 

" To the city?" 

4 'Anywhere where gold is promised." 

4 'And the danger?" 

" Pooh! Are we not under fire often?" 

"Then come." 

u But where? The city is a big place." 

"It is; but there are cribs where a man may hide. 
There we shall find our chief. Young like you, yes, 
young; but cunning, clever as they make them; 
keen, yes, sharp as any needle. Where? Ah, that 
wants telling! You wish for fortune. Then wait 
for it till the time comes. I am here as a bene- 
factor." 

Was he foxing? Was this crafty fellow luring 
them on? No — a thousand times no. The whole 
transaction had been so spontaneous. 

Tom looked across at Alfonso and found no warn- 
ing glance in his eyes. His Spanish cousin was as 



A Clue at Last 



335 



eager as he; he had no fears of a plot against 
them. 

" Ready then," said Tom, as he felt the dagger 
beneath his waistcoat and the pistol thrust into the 
leg of his boot, for he was seated on the shaft of 
the cart. "We put ourselves in your hands." 

"Then come." 

Watched by the eyes of the other men who had 
accompanied them, Tom and his cousin went off with 
their companion and were soon within the city, for 
the place had opened on the arrival of the British. 
Plunging into a side street, they wended their way 
towards the lower quarters of the city and were soon 
threading narrow alleys with noisome slums on either 
hand. Then their guide turned into a doorway and 
tapped three times sharply. Once more he gave his 
signal. Scurrying feet were heard. Stairs groaned 
and squeaked beneath a descending weight. The 
door was dragged open on rusty hinges. 

" Enter — how many?" 

"Three." 

" Then enter." 

Led by the one who had opened the door, and next 
by the rascally muleteer with whom they had scraped 
an acquaintance, Tom and his cousin entered the 
narrow, dark passage They climbed the same 
groaning, squeaking flight of stairs, and then plunged 
into a room but dimly lighted. Ten men were present, 
a full ten, seated about a rickety table. 

Who were they? Conspirators? Yes, without 



336 With Wellington in Spain 

doubt. Was Jose there? Impossible to say. Then 
any other they could recognize? No — yes. 

Tom's eyes pierced the flimsy disguise of one of 
the men present. It was the selfsame rascal cap- 
tured outside Ciudad Rodrigo, whom he had im- 
personated, a spy then, and one now, one, moreover, 
whose sharp eyes might easily penetrate his own 
disguise and bring a hornet's nest about him. 

"But it's duty," he murmured softly to himself, 
as he took a seat. "Wellington's orders must be 
obeyed. I'm here to unravel a plot and make an 
end of a set of ruffians who are a nuisance and a 
danger to my countrymen." 

Yes, it was duty. But the risk! Tom and his 
cousin had still to fathom its depth, had still to face 
the consequences of this rash visit. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

The Conspirators' Den 

Imagine a low-ceilinged room, the whitening long 
since gone a dull smoke colour, cobwebs in the 
corner, dust on every angle and ridge, and a floor 
innocent of scrubbing-brush for many a long day. 
Imagine an atmosphere charged with pungent smoke 
from the pipes and cigarettes of ten conspirators, 
smoke generated by tobacco of the coarsest and 
foulest. Add to that the nauseating fumes of an 
oil lamp, trimmed perhaps a month before, flickering, 
red, and smoky. Then picture the forms and faces 
of those ten conspirators gathered about a huge, 
rickety table, forms of small proportion for the most 
part, slim and lithe as becomes the young man of 
Spain, but alternated in the case of two at least by 
the grossest stoutness. Double chins were owned by 
that more aged couple. Their faces were masked by 
bushy eyebrow, and fierce moustaches, that curled 
upwards, while their chins were clad and obscured 
by black beards of a week's growth. For the rest, 
they were mostly clean-shaven, hawk-eyed, keen, 
blinking at the newcomers through the smoke which 
filled the chamber. 

(0 570) 337 22 



338 With Wellington in Spain 

"Welcome!" A solitary voice broke the silence 
when at length Tom and his companions were seated. 
But whence it came, from whom, he had no notion. 
The tones were deep, almost guttural. They might 
have emanated from the floor or from the smoke- 
blacked ceiling. 

" Welcome! You come in time to do good work. 
Declare your names, your age, and your parentage. 
Let one of you stand out before us and speak." 

The time had come to brave the whole matter, to 
risk discovery. Tom rose to his feet from the rickety 
chair to which he had been invited and stood before 
the company. He stared across the table, through 
the gloom, and sought the one who had spoken. 
But not one of the ten had moved. Not one seemed 
to have opened his lips. Ah! in the background, 
sheltered in the angle of the room, was yet another 
figure. The face leered out at him, one writhing 
hand concealing the features. Did Tom recognize 
this fellow even then? 

" No," he told himself. "The cunning beggar 
keeps a hand across his face. But — but I'll swear the 
voice is familiar, though masked now. Present!" he 
cried boldly. "We have come for information. We 
are ready to do good work and to earn a reward better 
than that paid to humble muleteers." 

The figure moved from the angled recess in which 
it had been hiding. The man or youth — Tom could 
not guess which — writhed his way across the un- 
washed floor and halted at the table. One thin, 



The Conspirators' Den 339 

shivering hand was stretched forward as if to gather 
warmth from the lamp, which was suddenly dashed 
to one side and the room plunged into darkness. 
At that instant vice-like fingers seized our hero by 
the neck, his legs were cut away from beneath him, 
while someone, evidently prepared for the occasion, 
tossed a coil of rope about him and drew it tight. 
There was the sound of a desperate struggle near at 
hand. Once Tom was violently kicked, evidently by 
accident. And then there was stillness; the lamp 
was set flaring again ; the same masked, guttural 
voice once more was heard. 

" Take them away; deal with them according to 
instructions. See that they are securely bound; let 
them understand that the end is near. Go." 

Tom could still see, though his arms were trussed 
to his side, while he was otherwise helpless. He 
fixed his eyes upon that central figure and tried to 
pierce the disguise, for disguised this leader of the 
conspirators was. But was it Jose? He scoffed at the 
idea. Jose ringleader of such a group ! He had not 
the pluck for such a venture. Then who? He knew 
the voice, masked though it was. It had been familiar 
at some occasion. Where, then? When?" 

i 'Go; take them away. To-morrow deal with 
them as you have been ordered." 

Men lit their cigarettes again. The band gathered 
once more about the table. There was an air of 
triumph about them all, something which seemed to 
say that they had brought about a coup and had 



34Q With Wellington in Spain 

been wonderfully clever; as, indeed, they had been. 
Tom in his young, ambitious heart had fondly 
imagined that all had been taken in by the disguise 
which he had affected. But the rascals of whom 
Lord Wellington had to complain were no ordinary 
individuals, though, as a rule, they were dressed 
as muleteers and followed that vocation. There 
was a clever, subtle brain behind them, and that 
brain had contrived to discover the plan so carefully 
formulated by Tom and his cousin. The rascally, 
leering driver of mules who had brought them to this 
rendezvous was but a decoy, fooled just as cleverly 
as they had been. Their coming was expected. 
Preparations for their capture were completed even 
before they left the safety of their camp. And now, 
what was before them? 

" Murder, I suppose," thought Tom, repressing a 
shiver. " That's the sort of thing these fellows go in 
for. What's the move now? They're bundling us 
out of the room, but where to is more than I can 
guess. Keep your pecker up, Alfonso," he called, 
when the door was shut on them, and they stood in 
a passage. " It'll all come out right in the end." 

1 i Silence! Pass in here," commanded one of the 
two ruffians who escorted them. " Not both, but 
you." 

A door was wrenched open, and Tom was flung in, 
receiving a savage kick from the second of their 
escort. The door banged, the lock creaked and 
grated before he picked himself up from the floor. 



The Conspirators' Den 34 1 

Then there was more tramping, the wrenching open 
of a second door, and another crash and bang. The 
heavy steps of two men came and passed his door. 
The room beyond, which they had so lately left, was 
opened. There came to his ears the buzz of many 
voices. Even the pungent reek of tobacco and lamp 
smoke smote upon his nostrils, and then there was 
comparative silence, save for a dull murmur. 

44 Muzzled! Fooled! Caught finely ! In chokey!" 
groaned Tom, full of bitterness. " And just when we 
thought things were going so nicely. But let's look 
round. I'm tied fast by the elbows and thumbs; I 
can't move my arms, while my legs are free. So 
much then to the good; it might have been worse." 

That was Tom all over — an optimist from the very 
depths of him. Always ready to look on the bright 
side of things. A grouser? Never! Life held too 
many rosy spots for our hero, as it does for all who 
care to look just an inch below the surface for them. 
Things could not always run smoothly, that he knew. 
They never do for anyone. Even kings have their 
trials and troubles, and why not humble individuals 
like our hero? It is the man who looks upon the 
bright side of matters who lives long and enjoys 
happiness. Unconsciously, perhaps — perhaps also be- 
cause he was the son of his father, the jovial, stout, and 
rollicking Septimus, himself an optimist — Tom, too, 
looked ever upon the rosy side. He was in trouble; 
why then make the very worst of that fact? Why 
not try to improve matters? And, being the practical 



34 2 With Wellington in Spain 

fellow he was, Tom began to look about him. The 
gloom gave way after a while. Light from a street 
lamp, or perhaps it came from a house opposite, 
flickered into the room, and now that his eyes were 
accustomed to it he could see his surroundings. 
There was a window, yes. It was twenty feet from 
the ground. An easy jump if his limbs were free, 
a dangerous attempt with his arms fettered. There 
was a dirty floor and a smoke-blacked ceiling. Not 
a stick of furniture was present. Yes there was, if 
blinds are furniture; for there was a blind to the 
window. It was let down to its full length, and there 
was the cord. It passed beneath a catch, and 

" My uncle!" gasped Tom, following Jack's pet ex- 
pression. " There's a serrated surface there, a regular 
saw, if only I could approach the edge. How's that? 
Bad. Try again. How's that? Worse. Never say 
die then. What's the report on this occasion?" 

It was good, or fair, or middling, as he changed 
his position ever so little. Sometimes the edges of 
the toothed band controlling the length or position of 
the pulley over which the blind cord ran gripped the 
strands of rope about his thumbs. Sometimes the 
latter slid over them as if they were not in existence. 
Then they gripped again, feebly perhaps, then with 
a vim there was no denying. Tom grew hot with the 
effort. Perspiration poured from his forehead. He 
pressed with even greater fierceness against the toothed 
edge he had found. 

" Through! Thumbs free," he was able to assure 



The Conspirators' Den 343 

himself after a while. " Those chaps are still at it, 
gassing and smoking. Now for my elbows. That's 
a different matter altogether. It's mighty hard to get 
them down into position, and one isn't sure when 
they're rubbing." 

But it could be done. If he had been successful 
so far, surely this additional difficulty was not going 
to discourage him. Tom clenched his teeth and 
stooped, managing by a gymnastic evolution to bring 
his fettered elbows against the serrated edge of the 
blind-cord catch. But the task was irritatingly slow 
and laborious. He rubbed with all his might, and 
still the cord held his arms pinioned closely together 
behind him. However, perseverance was a virtue of 
which he had quite his fair share, and Tom hated 
being beaten. Yes, whether in a matter of life and 
death, as this was, or in the ordinary affairs of life, 
Tom was a demon for work — a stickler, a fellow 
who liked to see a thing through and watch it to 
success. A strand of the cord gave with a little pop. 
Beads of perspiration burst from pores in his forehead 
until then untapped, and, welling up, joined the stream 
already flowing towards the corners of his eyes. Then 
there came a sound of loud and exultant laughter 
from the smoke-grimed room occupied by the con- 
spirators. The door burst open, while heavy feet 
resounded in the passage outside. 

"Free! Pulled the cords open. If they try any 
games with me I'm ready." 

He gathered up the fallen strands like lightning, 



344 With Wellington in Spain 

threw himself into the darkest corner, with his arms 
held behind his back as if they were still pinioned, 
while in one hand he gripped his pistol, his stiletto 
in the other. Nor was he any too soon. A key 
grated in the lock; the bolt slid back with a rusty 
creaking. The door itself came open with a bang, 
admitting half a dozen ruffians, who staggered in one 
after the other. 

One was fat and jowly and unwieldy of body. He 
brought a rickety chair with him and a lamp, and 
having thumped the former down in a central position 
proceeded to mop his reddened face. The others 
leaned against the dirty walls, surveying their pri- 
soner with satisfied grimaces, while cigarettes pro- 
truded from their lips. 

" Senor Inglise" began one — when the fat man 
interrupted him. 

"Senor indeed! Prisoner. Dog of an English- 
man !" 

" As you will," shrugged the other. " Dog of an 
Englishman ! Here is a test, and our fat friend will 
carry it out. You are on the staff of Lord Welling- 
ton. You know all things; then tell your tale. 
There is life and liberty for the telling." 

" As there was for me outside the walls of Rodrigo," 
shouted another of the rascals, whom Tom instantly 
recognized as the spy his men had captured, and 
whom he had impersonated. " Life and liberty. 
I took both. Here now is your chance. The tale, 
and then the open door." 




THE FAT MAN THREATENS TOM 



The Conspirators 5 Den 345 

grave," added the fat man, thrusting his 
handkerchief away and slowly drawing a pistol. 
" Mark you, Englishman, we wish you no harm. 
We ask for very little. What now are the plans of 
the English lord?" 

Tom laughed at them. He rocked from side to 
side at their questions, but as he did so he wondered 
whether he ought straightway to shoot the rascal into 
whose pistol muzzle he looked. It would be so easy. 
As for the others, pooh! he did not fear them. A 
blow here, a thrust with his stiletto there, and he 
would be out of the room. But there was Alfonso. 
No — the time had not yet come for shooting. 

" SenorSy you choose to joke," he said pleasantly. 
< < What next?" 

" For you, nothing after my bullet. For us, the 
easy task of extracting information from your com- 
rade." 

"Ah! There they thought to succeed — never!" 
Tom told himself, for Alfonso was a strict patriot. 
"Why ask for this information?" he demanded. 
"Of what use is it to you?" 

Quick as a flash he saw the importance of here and 
now discovering whether or no this was a gang of 
conspirators or spies dealing in official secrets, the 
pests who had already purloined maps and plans from 
Lord Wellington's dispatch case, rascals, in fact, 
who traded on the news they were able to sell to the 
enemy. He noticed glances passing between the 
men present. The sunken orbits of the fat man 



346 With Wellington in Spain 

turned from one to another, his jowly cheeks flapping. 
And then he swung round on Tom. 

" You may as well know as not," he said, with an 
air of impertinent assurance, "for if you speak, and 
tell this tale, you are one of us. If you decline " 

He levelled his pistol with precision, squinted 
along the sights till our hero, staring at the rogue, 
could see his fat cheek at the far end bulging over the 
butt. And then a podgy finger went to the trigger. 
It was a nasty feeling, that, distinctly nasty. Tom 
found himself clinging very hard to his pistol butt. 
He barely withstood the strong temptation to start to 
his feet and attack the odious ruffian. Then a smile 
broke across his face, a smile that seemed to reassure 
the fat man, while the others, villains undoubtedly, 
sighed as they were relieved of a strain which even 
they felt. 

" But of course you will speak, and therefore I 
may tell you who we are," the man in the centre said, 
leaning forward so that the chair squeaked, while he 
slowly lowered his weapon. "Know then, English- 
man, that we have business with all such matters. 
To the British we carry plans made by the French. 
From the British we take similar plans, and pass 
them to the enemy. Simple, is it not? Unpatriotic! 
Poof! We must live, and such business is paying. I 
will tell you. From this Lord Wellington our friend 
yonder took many documents but a month ago. They 
now rest in the case of Monsieur the French commander, 
while we live here in luxury. That is so, comrade?" 



The Conspirators' Den 347 

The rascal alluded to, none less than the very one 
whom Tom impersonated at Ciudad Rodrigo, wagged 
his head knowingly and smiled a smile of triumph. 

i l It is so; we have papers here to prove it." 

" Then it's the gang, and a pretty set of scoundrels 
they are, to be sure," thought Tom, turning the matter 
over swiftly. But he wanted to know more, he wanted 
additional time in which to complete a plan then form- 
ing in his head. " But " he began. 

" There is not such a thing as but in our business. 
We succeed always. Here, supposing we fail with 
you, and I have the unpleasant task of shooting you, 
we succeed without a doubt with your comrade. Ah, 
that stirs you!" gurgled the fat ruffian, hugely enjoy- 
ing his fancied position of bully. 

"That is understood," came Tom's answer, given 
with easy assurance, though the poor fellow was feel- 
ing far from happy. " But I was about to ask, seeing 
that I am invited to join you, surely you have a 
leader? Then who is he?" 

" The tale, and then you shall see; for of a surety 
we have a leader. Now, friend Englishman, you 
have put your own head into this noose, take there- 
fore my advice and escape in the only way possible. 
Believe me, the part of spy, conspirator, what you 
like to term it, is easy enough." 

"And supposing I know nothing?" It was, after 
all, only a reasonable suggestion, for the officer in 
command of a British army, or any other army for 
the matter of that, is not in the habit of spreading his 



348 With Wellington in Spain 

plans broadcast, nor is every staff officer of sufficient 
importance to warrant such confidence. No; such 
matters are buried secrets, discussed only amongst 
the highest, often enough known only to those im- 
mediately helping the commander. To speak the 
truth, Tom had his own ideas of the future move- 
ments of this Peninsula campaign; but they were 
his ideas only, discussed with comrades over a camp 
fire. They were very likely not Wellington's. Once 
before, too, he had had ideas, ideas imagined for a 
purpose. He remembered of a sudden how he had 
rewritten the spy's message to the commander at 
Ciudad Rodrigo, giving supposed plans of his com- 
manding officer which were likely enough, no doubt, 
but happened to be merely the result of guesswork. 
And why not buy freedom here for a while? Why 
not purchase respite even for a few hours? Yes, even 
for only a few hours, for in that space of time he could 
do much. 

" I'll speak," he said abruptly, causing the fat man 
almost to overbalance. " But the tale is a long one. 
A map will be necessary. I must sketch the plans 
and write against them." 

" Ah! Did I not say that he, a staff officer, must 
know all?" gurgled the stout wretch. " Did I not 
prophesy that he would speak? While our leader 
swore the opposite. Declared he would never open 
his mouth, even with a pistol grinning at him. Poof! 
I knew I should succeed. I have that reputation." 

He mopped the perspiration from his face, rolled 



The Conspirators' Den 349 

a cigarette, and lit it with the help of a comrade. 
"But why not speak now?" he asked suspiciously. 
" Now, while we are here to listen." 

Tom paused a little before answering. It would 
not do, he guessed, to be too emphatic. "Yes," 
he began, wrinkling his brows, "I could try, of 
course. But the thing must be written and sketched 
some time if it is to be any use to you, so that I 
should have to tell it all over again. Why not let 
me do it all at the same time, and add the sketches? 
Then you will have such complete information that 
you will be able to command a high price for 
it." 

" Bravo!" called one of the men. " He speaks the 
truth. Why not as he suggests? We have him 
securely here. Then give him time. Cut him free 
now, and leave him to it." 

How strange to feel in his heart almost terror at 
that suggestion, a suggestion which he would have 
welcomed but ten minutes before. Tom went furi- 
ously hot from head to foot, and then felt like an 
icicle. For to cut him free meant a discovery. That 
discovery of his severed bonds would rouse suspicion, 
and even he could hardly hope to persuade these folks 
to trust him again. " Wait," he called. " Leave me 
as I am to think. Bring pens and ink and paper 
when you have them." 

"And food in the first place. See you there," 
cried the fat man, pointing to the fellow Tom had 
already met, "go for food. Then pass outside the 



35o With Wellington in Spain 

house and get the writing things. We will go back 
to a meal ; you can join us later. 

" After the meal I have a friend to see outside. I 
will get these things, and then join you as the night 
gets older." 

There was a knowing smile on more than one of 
the ruffianly faces. The fat man grinned and chortled. 
"A friend! Hola!" he cried. "And one whose 
company is better and more entertaining than that 
of these comrades. Well, well! We have all had 
friends. When the war is ended, and we have done 
more business, you will marry the wench, and small 
blame to you." 

They went away at once, banging the door and 
leaving their prisoner. 

The sigh which Tom sighed was of the number 
one order. It was immense. It heaved his shoulders 
upward and his ribs outward till he looked like a 
trussed pigeon. And the perspiration trickling from 
his forehead showed under what tension he had 
laboured. For he had passed through a terrible 
ordeal, one which might easily have overmastered 
his courage. That grinning pistol was not the worst 
part of it all, though it was bad enough. There were 
a hundred fears lurking in his heart. Supposing, for 
instance, it came to the poiht where he drew up this 
sketch, information and plans purely imaginary, con- 
jured up in a somewhat inventive brain, and those 
plans proved in the end to be actually in a manner 
similar to those projected by the great Wellington ! 



The Conspirators' Den 351 

Then his name would go down for ever and ever as 
a traitor, as a coward, as a spy. The word was loath- 
some to him. Better to be butchered than suffer such 
a chance. 

Then the old optimistic spirit triumphed. " Chance! 
There wasn't such a thing, for he hadn't yet set his 
hand to paper, and wouldn't if he could help it. 
The job's got to be tackled right at once," he told 
himself; "there's no time for delaying. But one 
thing's certain: this is the very gang Lord Well- 
ington wishes to discover. For haven't I had proof 
positive? Then how to haul the whole lot by the 
heels? Ah, that's a conundrum ! Precious queer for 
a fellow to be sitting in a hole like this, a prisoner, 
and to wonder how he's going to capture the fellows 
who have bagged him! Queer, I do think!" 

He actually smiled. Tom began to grin at the 
recollection of his good fortune, for he had had un- 
doubtedly the best of the recent interview. He had, 
for the time being at any rate, hoodwinked a portion 
of the gang, and, seeing that the noise in the adjacent 
room, deafening after the entry of his late visitors, 
had now subsided into a gentle murmur, why, if 
noise was any criterion of his fortunes, the con- 
spirators were easy in their minds. 

Seated in his corner, Tom began to pass each one 
of the individuals who composed the gang in review 
before him. Not. that he could remember in detail 
all those ruffianly countenances ; but there were some 
whose features had left an impression. The two fat 



352 With Wellington in Spain 

men, for instance, rascals if ever there were any; then 
half a dozen of the others; and lastly, and to the 
exclusion of the remainder, the one he had taken for 
leader, the shadowy individual, obviously disguised, 
with the writhing hand across his mouth and the 
assumed voice. 

" Could that be Jose? No. The fellow was too 
short. But — but, awfully like him, that writhing 
hand. And the voice too?" 

Tom scratched his head, a luxury denied him a 
little earlier. " Bother the chap!" he cried. " Any- 
way, I hope it won't prove to be that precious cousin. 
All the better for him and for us when I come to 
round up this crowd!" 

How Jack Barwood would have roared with 
laughter at him! But let us tell the whole truth. 
Down in the depths of his own jovial heart of hearts 
Jack would have been, secretly, just a wee little bit 
jealous. For what thundering optimism was here! 

"The cheek of him!" he would decidedly have 
exclaimed. " Here's Tom foxing in a corner, with 
his hands freed when they're supposed to be lashed 
together. That's, so far as I can see, his only point 
of advantage. Against that single item he's a pri- 
soner, locked in a room, with a band of cut-throat 
villains eating their supper beside him. And here 
he has the amazing cheek to think, and think seri- 
ously too, of the time when he'll have captured the 
lot, to even sympathize with a cousin who may pos- 
sibly be the leader. Hoo!" 



The Conspirators' Den 353 

Indignation, amusement, concern for the evident 
idiocy of his chum would be expressed in his retort 
had he been there to make one. But he wasn't, 
more's the pity. And to our hero the amusing, 
idiotic side of his thoughts, if so you care to term 
it, was a source of no more than passing interest. 
He began to check certain matters over on the tips 
of his fingers. He nodded his head knowingly, and 
then, of a sudden, he looked up. For the door 
yonder had opened. Now it banged to with a crash. 
A step was coming along the passage. A key was 
thrust into the lock, and presently the man who was 
to supply him with food, and, later, with writing 
implements and paper, was pushing his way into his 
prison. In a moment he would stoop to cut those 
lashings which now were not in existence. In a 
moment, in fact, the cat would be out of the bag. 
Tom braced his muscles for a struggle. 



(C570) 23 



CHAPTER XIX 

Tom Thinks Furiously 

The man who had entered Tom's prison, the one 
whom his irregulars had captured outside Ciudad 
Rodrigo, and in whose clothes our hero had made 
his venture into the fortress, pushed the door to with 
his toe, and, stooping, deposited a wooden tray in 
the centre of the room, on the identical spot so lately 
occupied by the rickety and creaking chair of the 
fat rascal who had been so free with his promises 
and his pistol. 

"Food and drink," he said, as he stood upright. 
"Ah, I had forgotten the comrade! He, too, per- 
haps, would care for something. Then I must get 
the key. Eduardo has it. Yes, that is what I shall 
do. Then there is the pen and ink and paper, and 
later " 

"The friend," smiled Tom, watching the fellow 
like a cat. "The little friend, comrade, whom you 
will marry when you have made this fortune." 

The fellow grinned ; he liked the wit of the English 
staff officer. It flattered his vanity to be chaffed about 
this little matter of which he was inordinately proud. 

354 



Tom Thinks Furiously 355 

Yes, it pleased him distinctly — this prisoner was quite 
an amiable fellow. 

" Ho, ho!" he laughed. "Wait till you are one 
of us. But, remember, fine feathers make fine birds. 
You will have no gaudy uniforms. In matters such 
as this with us it is a case of the man alone. It is 
personality that tells." 

Tom would have laughed at his stupid vanity at 
another time. But there he was, all strung up for 
the struggle which he knew to be inevitable, wait- 
ing and waiting. And how can a man, or a youth 
for the matter of that, conjure up an easy smile 
under such circumstances? 

"Yes, it is always the man himself who makes the 
running," said this fellow. "But I will take food 
to your comrade, and then for the rest." 

He was wool-gathering, this spy. Even spies, we 
suppose, have their amorous moments and their 
gentler passions. This man was so taken up with 
the thought of the outing he was to have that he 
was actually pulling the door open and leaving 
without a thought as to the condition of his prisoner. 
Of what use food and drink when a man's hands were 
supposed to be fast bound behind him? 

The reader can imagine the temptation Tom felt to 
let him go without a murmur; for then the struggle, 
inevitable no doubt, would be deferred for a while. 
He would have a longer breathing space; he would, 
perhaps, be better prepared in the course of a few 
minutes. 



356 With Wellington in Spain 

"Funking, eh?" he asked himself severely. 
" Wanting to put it off, you brute. Hi!" he called. 
"Thanks for the food and all that is to follow, but 
permit me to point out that I am unable to touch 
it. After all, even were I a four-footed animal, I 
could hardly manage the task with two of my limbs 
tied. No doubt the thought of this friend drives 
such trivial matters out of your head." 

A roar escaped the jailer. This was quite the best 
joke he had come across in many a long day's march. 
How his comrades would cackle when he told them ; 
for of course he would do that. It would add zest 
to their chaffing. 

"Indeed it is a pretty compliment I am paying 
a certain person, and so I shall tell her," he giggled. 
"To think that I who am so careful should go about 
with my wits so flying. She will smile and be 
pleased. Hola! Then this is a true sign of my feel- 
ings for the minx." 

"Quite a decent fellow in some ways, though a 
traitor," thought Tom, eyeing the fellow narrowly. 
"Makes one feel rather a sneak to upset this meet- 
ing. But then, business comes first, eh? Yes, I'm 
sorry for him, but it can't be helped." 

He staggered to his feet as the man came towards 
him, still with his hands behind his back. And then 
he lunged swiftly, catching the jailer neatly between 
the eyes with a fist the knuckles of which were now 
hard after months of strenuous campaigning. The 
man rose bodily from the floor, his feet kicked spas- 



Tom Thinks Furiously 357 

modically forward, and in a moment the Spanish 
hero, the spy and traitor who with his comrades 
made a living by selling the stolen secrets of those 
who had come to deliver their country, was crash- 
ing upon the floor. 

Tom bent over him, a stern look on his face. He 
was ready for more violence if need be, though not 
eager. " Stunned, knocked him out with the sort 
of blow a pugilist would give. That's satisfactory 
for the moment. Now for the future. Sorry about 
that girl though. Must tell Jack Barwood and see 
if he cannot console. Now for Alfonso; but there's 
a bothering key wanted. Perhaps this one'll fit. 
Supposing it don't?" 

Up went his hand again. The dashing young 
staff officer, of whom Lord Wellington already had 
such a high opinion, looked for the moment just 
like a Spanish churl. For, recollect, he was still 
dressed as muleteer, and muleteers wear clothing 
which compares but badly with the smart uniform 
of an officer of the staff. Besides, he had been some- 
what tumbled about of late. But what did it matter? 
Even had there been anyone to look on, it was too 
dark to discover details. Not that Tom could not 
see. Those ruffians who had interviewed him had 
taken a lamp to the room, and the man who lay 
sprawling now had brought a candle, only it had 
gone sprawling too, and lay guttering and almost 
out at that moment. Tom picked it up and looked 
about him. 



358 With Wellington in Spain 

" No use waiting; time's precious," he told himself. 
" I'll see what can be done with Alfonso's door. Then 
we'll set things humming." 

He took the key from the door of his own prison, 
and, snatching up the candle, stealthily slipped along 
the passage. There was a door ten feet down it, and 
the key slid into the lock. But it refused to turn, 
causing Tom to groan with vexation. He closely 
inspected the lock then, and stood considering mat- 
ters. A roar of laughing and loud voices from the 
farther room, in which the spies were supping, dis- 
tracted his attention, and in a moment he was back at 
his own door. Ah ! A streak of light burst its way 
into the passage. The door was opening. Tom in- 
stantly slid into his own room, closed the door gently, 
and locked it from within. Then, putting the candle 
in the far corner, on the same wall as the door, he 
waited events. They followed swiftly; for a minute 
later there came a thunderous blow upon the door, 
and then a burst of laughter. 

" Ho, there, within! We come to join a comrade 
at supper, and to bring him better fare than he has 
been given — open." 

It was the voice of the fat man, breathless as if after 
much effort, a little incoherent, if the truth be told. 
The laughter was that of men easily roused to merri- 
ment, who enjoy a feeble joke, or a saying wanting 
in wit and point, more thoroughly and longer than 
it merits. They had been supping, that was the ex- 
planation, and conspirators such as these might well 



Tom Thinks Furiously 359 

be expected to sup wisely, but too freely perhaps. 
And here seemed to be an example. 

"Open!" bellowed the fat man, shaking the door 
violently. 

"Open!" roared his comrades, lurching against it. 
" Open and sup with new comrades." 

"And the key? Does a prisoner, even if he be 
about to become a new comrade — does he have the 
key of his prison given into his care?" 

The note of amusement which Tom managed to 
fling into his voice caught the fancy of these ruffians. 
They laughed uproariously, so that for a while not 
one could make his voice heard. And then one sug- 
gested that they should beat the door in. 

"Aye, beat it in!" gurgled the fat man. "See, 
I will throw myself against it, and, pish! the thing 
will fall to the ground." 

That put a summary end to the matter, for the fat 
individual was unable to control his muscles with 
sufficient precision and dexterity to bring about the 
attempted movement. He launched his ponderous 
weight at the door, it is true, but his dive fell short 
by two feet at least, and, stumbling, he rolled amongst 
his comrades, bringing about a scene of confusion. 

The place rocked with the laughter of men. More 
than one leaned against the door, shaking it badly. 
Then there were groans, fat groans, almost in a 
stifled voice, and coming from the one who seemed 
to be the ringleader i this piece of mischief. There 
was more movement and more groaning, then heavy 



360 With Wellington in Spain 

steps, as if of men carrying a burden. In fact the 
fat man had been placed hors de combat. His own 
indiscretion and dash had brought about his down- 
fall. A damaged leg caused his overexcited spirits 
to evaporate into the smoky air of the foul dwelling 
in which his comrades were supping, while the pain 
drew a succession of the dreariest of groans from him. 

" Done with their invitation for the time being," 
hoped Tom. " Ah, there goes the door to with a 
bang! I'll have a look outside and see what has 
happened." 

Gently turning the key, he pulled the door ajar and 
listened. Not a sound came from the passage, and 
when his head was thrust out there was not even a 
glimmer of light to be seen in the direction of the 
supper room. But there was noise enough. Laughter 
rose and fell, and was punctuated frequently by the 
dismal groanings of the man who had been hurt. In 
fact, it looked as if the gang had settled down for a 
time, and as if our hero might prosecute his own 
affairs without interference. He tiptoed along to 
Alfonso's room and shook the door heavily. But 
there was no answer from within, not even when he 
called in as loud a voice as he dared risk. Had he 
but known it, his cousin lay on the floor over by the 
far window, still pinioned, as obstinate as any mule, 
determined to hold no converse with the rascals who 
had captured him. He was not wanting in spirit, 
this Spanish cousin of Tom's. As a matter of plain 
fact, he too had made many and many an effort to 



Tom Thinks Furiously 361 

free his limbs. But he had not observed a similar 
catch existing on his own window, and with which 
our hero had managed to saw through his own bonds. 
That was, perhaps, an excellent illustration of the 
difference existing between the two young fellows. 
Alfonso was a gallant officer, and had proved himself 
possessed of ample courage on many an occasion. He 
was not brilliant, however, and wanted some of the 
dash displayed by his English cousin. Perhaps that 
was the result of his nationality, of his upbringing, of 
his general life and surroundings until the outbreak of 
this Peninsula War. But then, had Tom's life and 
conditions been much different? He had lived his 
seventeen years in that quaint old house down by the 
Thames, with its fine mulberry tree spreading wide, 
leafy branches in front. The peeping into a big 
office provides no great excitement, nor the seeing 
there of certain grey-headed clerks who, as was the 
case at the establishment of Septimus John Clifford 
& Son, carried out their allotted tasks daily without 
a hair's variation. There was his school, to be sure; 
contact there with many a comrade; friendships made 
and lost and regained; struggles for supremacy in 
such games as then were practised; and, on occasion, 
somewhat too frequently as his masters stated flatly, 
there were contests outside, such as that between Tom 
and the grocer's lad. That had been our hero's life, 
quiet and regular enough, as one must admit. But the 
result was that Tom had a dash and swiftness about 
him Alfonso would never possess, while here was an 



362 With Wellington in Spain 

illustration which pointed to his quickness. Alfonso 
still lay bound by the thumbs and elbows: Tom was 
free, in the enjoyment of active movement. 

* i Perhaps he's asleep," he thought, shaking the 
door again and calling without receiving an answer. 
' 'Anyway, I daren't make more noise, and there is 
nothing about with which I could hope to force the 
lock. It begins to look as if I'll have to go to those 
rascals and hold the lot of them up till they produce 
the key. How'd it do?" 

His finger went pensively to his forehead, while he 
stood in the passage thinking deeply. At the far end 
the noise in the supper chamber had become even 
greater. There were shouts as well as laughter now, 
and once a sudden stamping, as if one of the gang 
had risen to his feet and was indulging in a pas seul, 
with which to enliven his comrades. 

" Let's get along to the farther end and see what's 
there. Ah, another room ! Locked? No, open. No 
key, though, and the place as dirty as the others." 

He lifted the guttering candle overhead and in- 
spected his surroundings. The room was empty, 
completely stripped of furniture. As a matter of fact 
the house itself was an empty one which this rascally 
gang had appropriated, taking full advantage of the 
times. A raid on neighbouring houses at the moment 
of the French retreat and the coming of the British 
had stocked certain of the rooms, while the owner 
must have been absent, else there would have been 
enquiries. Then, too, by staring out of the window, 



Tom Thinks Furiously 363 

Tom made the discovery that the dwelling was situ- 
ated at the end of a narrow yard, there being 
stabling on either hand. It blocked this far end, 
while opposite there was a low, arched exit leading 
into one of the minor streets of Madrid. 

"Just the sort of crib for such fellows. No one 
likely to come into the yard unless they had actual 
business here; and since these troubles started I ex- 
pect few have been able to keep horses. The French 
cavalry, of whom there have been thousands swarm- 
ing through the city, will have snapped up every 
atom of forage, and made horsekeeping an expensive 
and impossible thing for most inhabitants. So it's 
the place of all others for such a gang. Perhaps it'll 
suit me just as well too. Now I wonder." 

Stretching his head out of the narrow window he 
looked thoughtfully about him, and, gazing upward, 
took stock of the stars, for the clear night sky was 
thickly sown with them. One of the advantages of 
campaigning, and commanding an irregular corps 
undertaking frequent detached duties, was that he 
had learned to read his direction by the stars, and 
now a little careful study told him that he was facing 
south, that the street into which the house looked and 
the yard actually emptied ran east and west. 

" While the bulk of the city's to the north," he told 
himself. " That'll help once we get out of this hole." 

It is to be remarked that he had already decided 
that escape was not only possible but certain. And 
he had used the word "we". Tom, in fact, never 



364 With Wellington in Spain 

even dreamed of leaving Alfonso. Had he done so, he 
could have dropped from that window and gone clear 
away. It would be a squeeze to push his somewhat 
bulky figure through the frame ; but it could be done, 
and below, outside, lay freedom; within lay death. 
For this gang of spies was not likely to spare a young 
fellow possessed of some of their secrets, and able to 
bring soldiers to arrest them. The fact that they had 
spoken so plainly was proof positive that they con- 
sidered the two prisoners had no chance of escape, 
while so little were they in sympathy with the feelings 
of an Englishman that they, for the most part, had 
taken it for granted that both Tom and Alfonso would 
willingly sell any knowledge they happened to have 
for the sake of security. And the very act of doing 
so would, of course, make them part and parcel of 
the gang; for to return to the troops would be im- 
possible. 

" No use thinking at all," he grumbled, satisfied 
with his look out of the window. " Let's get to work. 
This room's empty, so I'll leave it. Now for the pas- 
sage again. Ah! Stairs leading downward; others 
going up. Try those descending first of all." 

There was a door at the bottom of the steps leading 
directly into the big yard. The huge paving stones, 
littered with unswept rubbish, seemed to call loudly 
to him, to invite him to come out; for across their 
surfaces he could step to freedom. Behind, upstairs, 
lay danger; but a friend, a cousin, lay there also. 
Clambering up again, Tom was about to ascend to 



Tom Thinks Furiously 365 

the floor above his prison, when shouts came from the 
supper room and sent him darting back to his own. 
The door hiding those villains swung back with a 
crash and revealed a scene which, when he came to 
look more closely at it — for he was now only venturing 
to peep through the partly opened door of his prison 
— caused him to stare at the members of the gang, 
whose acquaintance he had so recently made, with 
eyes which were distinctly startled. What else could 
one expect with such people, the lowest of the low, 
traitors to their country, men who made profit out of 
the misfortunes of the nation, and who stooped even 
to do a mischief to the very people who had come at 
such risk, and at such cost in blood and money, to 
help the Spanish against the French? These ruffians 
had been making merry without a doubt. Secure in 
their retreat — for the house was so isolated and shut 
in that even their shouts and ribald laughter were 
hardly likely to attract attention from outsiders — they 
had been supping liberally, and the red wine of Spain 
had been flowing. The view through the open door 
discovered three of the wretches dancing hilariously 
with unsteady feet, while beyond them, separated by 
the table, on which stood a smoky lamp, was the fat 
individual who had been so free with his pistol. His 
ungainly cheeks hung flabbily. His pig-like eyes 
were hardly visible, while his lips were blown out- 
ward at every expiration. Nor had he ceased groan- 
ing. Evidently he found the chair in which he had 
been placed little to his liking, or he may have been 



366 With Wellington in Spain 

more severely injured than Tom thought. In any 
case his wrinkled forehead, his sallow cheeks, and 
his anxious eyes showed that he was suffering. 

But what cared the others? Not a jot. Those three 
danced right merrily, more than once being on the 
eve of upsetting the injured man. Comrades sprawled 
across the table, their heads buried in their hands, 
evidently sunk in sleep, while the picture was com- 
pleted in so far as the contents of the room went, or 
so much of them as Tom could see, by a couple of the 
fellows sprawled motionless on the floor. Obviously 
it was not any of these who had caused the commo- 
tion. The centre of the scene, in fact, was occupied 
by two men half in and half out of the door, past 
whose figures Tom squinted to see the interior. One 
still clung to the latch, reeling unsteadily, while the 
other leaned against the post. It was clear that there 
had been an altercation between them, and as a 
matter of fact they had risen to go outside and fight 
the matter out. But Spanish tempers are quick and 
fiery. Shouts of anger came from both, while the 
man clinging to the door already had his stiletto 
drawn. Indeed Tom had hardly taken in all these 
particulars when the two threw themselves at one 
another like tigers, and, gripping wherever they 
could, fell to the ground, and there rolled from side 
to side as they struggled. Gasps and cries of hatred 
escaped them both, and then a shriek silenced every 
other sound within the building. It even stirred 
Alfonso to movement. He came to his door and 



Tom Thinks Furiously 367 

beat his shoulders against it, for that shriek sent a 
horrible chill through him. 

" It may be Tom they're murdering," he told him- 
self, with a gasp. 

But Tom was merely an onlooker, a horrified one, 
to be sure. That shriek told a tale there was no 
mistaking. Suddenly one of the men seemed to be- 
come flabby. The hand which had gripped his 
opponent's neck fell to the floor with a hollow 
bump. Then his head sank backward. The victor 
rose with difficulty, stood looking down at his victim, 
and, having wiped his stiletto on the tail of his coat, 
staggered back into the supper room and banged the 
door behind him. There was a hush about the build- 
ing after that. Maybe those of the conspirators still 
able to understand were as disturbed as Tom at the 
occurrence. But we hardly think so. Quarrels were 
frequent enough; bloodletting was a common occu- 
pation. 

' 'Well, they're brutes, the whole lot of 'em, that's 
true," Tom told himself; "and it seems to me that 
the majority are in such a condition that they are 
hardly likely to discover what's happening. I'll wait 
a little, and then just go tooth and nail for that door. 
It would take any one of them five minutes to stir his 
drunken wits, and by then the thing'll be open and 
Alfonso out. But that's not all that I want. My 
orders were to discover the gang and apprehend them. 
That's clear; so the job's not finished with Alfonso's 
release." 



368 With Wellington in Spain 

He went out into the passage boldly and slid 
along to the door of the supper room. A feeble 
groan came to his ears. That was the fat man 
— snores caused the air to vibrate. No doubt the 
rascals sprawling on the table and beneath it were 
responsible. But of talking there was none. As 
for the man on the floor, he was dead. Tom leaned 
over him and listened; there was not so much as 
the whisper of a breath. He ran his hands over 
the man's face, down his clothing, to his belt. The 
sheath of his drawn stiletto was there, and a pistol 
also. There was nothing more, nothing. Yes, there 
was something: Tom gripped it. It was a key 
thrust into the belt. He tore it out as if his life 
depended on his haste, and went racing down the 
passage. It fitted. The lock of Alfonso's room 
turned. The door swung open widely. 

" Come swiftly," whispered Tom, darting in and 
proceeding at once to cut Alfonso's bonds with the 
blade of a knife he always carried. 

"But — how have you done it? How long have 
you been free? Who helped you?" gasped his 
cousin, firing off a string of questions in a deep 
whisper. "Those brutes, where are they? I heard 
them fighting or drinking." 

"Hush! We'll talk the thing over later. Come 
to the window and look out. Now, there is the 
courtyard at the bottom of which this house is 
situated. When you reach the street, turn sharp 
left and run to the camp. Bring men back with 



Tom Thinks Furiously 369 

you. Bring any soldiers you can come upon. It 
is hardly nine yet, and there will be plenty about. 
Also there is a bright, harvest moon, and that makes 
matters easier. Surround this house. Guard every 
outlet, and then we shall have the lot of these fellows. 
Alfonso, this is the very gang we are after." 

He took the still astonished Alfonso by the 
shoulders and pushed him out of the room and 
down the stairs into the yard. 

" But you, you, Tom? What happens? You stay? 
Why?" 

" Go quickly; this is a great chance. Go at once." 

Tom turned abruptly and entered the house again, 
while his cousin, knowing him by this time, and 
having already learned in the course of service under 
his command that this young English cousin of his 
had a way, when thwarted, of giving the curtest 
orders, darted out into the yard and went racing 
through it. The one remaining, the young man 
upon whom the great Lord Wellington had already 
turned his attention, crept up the stairs again to the 
passage. He stole softly to the door of the supper 
room and then back to those stairs leading upward. 
Ascending them, he reached another landing with 
a couple of doors leading from it. The flickering 
candle he bore in his hand showed the dirt and 
squalor of the place, and showed, moreover, some- 
thing strange about one of the doors. It was heavily 
barred outside, while a padlock passed though an 
eyelet in the bar and made all secure. There were 

( 570 ) 24 



37o With Wellington in Spain 

voices coming from the inside. Did our hero recog- 
nize those voices after listening for a while? Then 
why such extraordinary excitement, the like of which 
he had not shown before, even in the midst of stren- 
uous adventure? He went red-hot from head to foot 
and gazed desperately about him. What could have 
caused this sudden nervousness? Could it be that 
one of the speakers must be Jose, the rascally cousin 
who had already done him such an injury, or could 

it be possible ?" 

Frantic with eagerness he backed against the wall 
of the passage and then rushed at the door, putting 
all his strength and weight into the blow. He kicked 
it desperately. Careless of the commotion he raised, 
he kicked and kicked and kicked again, till, of a 
sudden, the door flew open. That moment, too, was 
the signal for loud shouts from the supper room. A 
swarm of rascals, roused from their stupor by the 
noise, came swarming out, and, running down the 
passage, found two empty prisons to greet them. 
The sound of breaking timber above reached their 
ears, and at once they turned to the stairs and raced 
up them. 



CHAPTER XX 

A Brilliant Capture 

While Tom Clifford, commander of the composite 
force of Spanish and Portuguese irregulars, staff 
officer, and as smart a young fellow as served under 
Wellington's command, listens to the approach of 
those ruffians who had been such a scourge to our 
army, and who had traded upon the military plans 
and secrets of those who had come to aid their 
country, let us for a few moments anticipate events 
and narrate what followed the eventful conflict at 
Salamanca. 

Portugal was long ago cleared of the invading 
French. Now the enemy were sent flying into the 
heart of Spain, while Wellington could cheerfully cut 
himself clear of Portugal, feeling sure that the troops 
in rear would be sufficient to keep open his lines 
of communication, always an important matter with 
a general invading a country swarming with enemies. 
For then, if the worst came to the worst, the retreat 
lay open. 

We find him, then, promptly marching on Madrid, 
and have told how the troops, with Tom Clifford's 
command, reached that city. The immediate results 

371 



372 With Wellington in Spain 

of Salamanca and this march were far-reaching. 
King Joseph, the usurper thrust upon the Spanish 
throne by Napoleon, fled the city, ordering Soult 
and Suchet to come to his help. The former, then 
at Cadiz, where Sir Rowland Hill opposed him, de- 
stroyed his heavy cannon and marched to join Joseph, 
while Sir Rowland Hill at once proceeded to attach 
his force to that of Wellington. The latter then 
set out for Burgos, a most antique city, situated 
on the highroad to Bayonne, the French retreating 
steadily before him, looting churches and houses as 
they went. This movement of the invader towards 
his own frontier did not declare that he had given 
up the contest. On the contrary, General Souham, 
who had now taken over the command of the French 
in Spain, or did so on 3 October, was making every 
effort to collect a huge force to oppose us, and, al- 
though no serious opposition was offered to our 
march to Burgos, the clouds were gathering daily, 
and Wellington had reason to fear that, if he failed 
to capture this stronghold, he would be left to face 
overwhelming French odds or to retreat once more 
on his own base. And, as we have taken the liberty 
of anticipating events, let us say that, in spite of 
the utmost gallantry and the most dashing assaults, 
Burgos resisted, and Wellington who was unprepared 
for assault, since he had no adequate siege train with 
him, had to attack the defences. After no fewer than 
five assaults, a number of sallies by the gallant garri- 
son, and thirty-three days investment, the siege was 



A Brilliant Capture 373 

abandoned, some 2000 of our men having fallen, 
while the French had also lost heavily. Nor must 
we omit to mention the skill and undoubted valour of 
Colonel du Breton and his men, who here opposed us. 

Souham had now collected some 70,000 of all arms, 
and, therefore, retreat was urgent. That retreat be- 
came, indeed, almost a facsimile of the famous retreat 
of Sir John Moore, though it did not continue so long; 
for, in spite of every precaution, in spite of wrapping 
cannon wheels with straw to deaden the sound, the 
garrison of Burgos got wind of the beginning of the 
movement. Almost at once French columns were in 
pursuit,' and from that day there were constant con- 
flicts between our rearguard and the enemy. Pass- 
ing by way of the River Tormes, on his route for the 
frontier of Portugal, Wellington crossed that river, 
leaving a thin brigade to hold the bridge at Alba — 
and a gallant brigade it proved. Pelted with cannon 
shot, unable to reply save with musketry, this brigade 
clung to the spot, arresting the pursuit of the enemy 
till their position was turned by French cavalry cross- 
ing the river elsewhere. Then came the passage 
of the Huebra, accompanied by constant fighting. 
But the skilful Wellington drew off his troops, though 
many a poor fellow was left dead or wounded, until 
at length the frontier of Portugal was reached, and 
with it winter quarters. Some 9000 men had been 
lost on the way, while baggage had for the most part 
fallen into the hands of the enemy. 

But let us realize that this was no defeat. There 



374 With Wellington in Spain 

were some 90,000 Frenchmen now swarming about 
our retreating column, for every available soldier had 
been brought up by Souham, who determined once 
and for all to check the designs of the British. And 
yet he failed. Wellington had reached security with 
the bulk of his forces. Thus ended the campaign 
for the year 181 2, only to be resumed again in the 
spring of 1813, when our armies, still beneath the 
same conquering hand, were to advance north again, 
right up to the French frontier, and finally to enter 
France. Let us also contrast at this point the 
movements of Wellington's troops with those of 
Napoleon's men in other fields of conquest. Wel- 
lington began that memorable retreat from Burgos on 
the night of 21 October, 181 2, and saw its completion 
within a few days of the crossing of the Huebra on 
18 November. At the very same time Napoleon 
was also in retreat, that famous and fearful retro- 
grade movement which laid the foundation of his 
final downfall. Reaching Moscow with his hosts 
on 14 September, he found the city deserted by 
its 250,000 inhabitants. His triumphal entry was 
disturbed by the outbreak of fire, and finally he 
was driven forth to face an Arctic Russian winter 
by the destruction of the city. He set his face 
homeward on 19 October. And later we find him 
hastening from a field that no longer attracted 
his attention, just as he had hastened out of Spain 
soon after the coming of the British. Entering 
Russia full of confidence, and with nearly a half- 



A Brilliant Capture 375 

million of men, he bade farewell to those of his 
generals who still lived on 5 December, leaving be- 
hind him a shattered remnant, devoid of discipline, 
half-frozen and more than half-starved, a rabble still 
to suffer frightfully at the hands of the dashing Cos- 
sacks. Think of the untold misery. Think of the 
very many thousands of men, all in the flower of 
manhood, who perished in this Russian campaign. 
Then recollect that the overpowering ambition of 
this " Little Corporal", this commoner, this distin- 
guished artillery officer, was chiefly responsible. 
France needed no larger territory. Honour and 
glory could have been won for her emperor and 
her people by this lost energy, this sad loss of 
young vigour, applied to her own internal affairs, 
to commerce and other matters. Instead, France 
wept at the loss of its young manhood and groaned 
beneath the burden of excessive war taxation, while 
the years which followed were to see the downfall of 
the empire which was then being created, the loss 
of all these provinces won by the sword at the price 
of the misery and death of thousands and thousands 
of innocent and would-be peaceful people. Napoleon 
may have been great — he was, admittedly, a military 
genius and a man of unsurpassed courage and am- 
bition — but the thousands who went to their doom 
at his bidding, or who sent thousands of their fellows 
to their end because of his actions, bear a terrible testi- 
mony against him. His deathbed amidst those peace- 
ful surroundings at St. Helena, high up over the 



376 With Wellington in Spain 

smiling sea, was a glaring contrast to the deathbed 
of many and many a poor fellow who followed or 
opposed his fortunes. 

But let us turn from a subject such as this to the 
fortunes of as bright a lad as ever set foot on the 
Peninsula. We left Tom acting in a manner almost 
inexplicable. See him now, then, with that door 
shattered and burst wide open, and himself returned 
to the head of the stairs up which the rascals from 
below were rushing. And look at the two who 
were with him. One, a stout jovial man of medium 
height, and possessed of ruddy features which showed 
resolution and energy, stood at his side armed with 
a length of splintered woodwork. A second, taller 
perhaps, thin and cadaverous, and of sallow Spanish 
complexion, stood in rear gripping our hero's stiletto. 
Both were more or less in rags, and grimed with long 
confinement in a noisome prison. But in each case 
fearless eyes looked out through flashing glasses. 
And down below, coming upward helter-skelter, were 
a dozen rascals, one bearing a lantern, elbowing one 
another, firing their weapons haphazard, shouting at 
the three above them. 

" Silence!" Tom commanded at the pitch of his 
voice. " Silence for a moment. Now, lay down 
your arms and go back to your room. You are 
surrounded. You are prisoners. The man who 
dares to fire another weapon will be taken outside 
and shot instantly." 

Gaping faces looked up at him, and then into the 



A Brilliant Capture 377 

eyes of their fellows. Two men at the bottom of the 
stairs turned to run. And then one of the leaders 
called upon them not to be cowards. 

" Surrounded!" he laughed. " He is fooling the 
lot of us. Hear him call upon us to surrender when 
we are on the point of chopping him to pieces. Up 
we go. In a trice we will have the lot of them strung 
by the necks from the windows." 

His pistol belched a charge of flame and shot in 
Tom's direction, and, missing our hero's head by a 
narrow margin, swept above the spectacles of his 
gallant father — for it was Septimus whom he had 
unearthed from the room behind him, and his uncle 
Juan also — causing that sedate, business gentleman 
to duck most violently. It completed its work by 
crashing into the ceiling and bringing down a yard 
of material which almost blinded Don Juan as it 
smashed into pieces. As for Tom, he leaned for- 
ward, took steady aim, and sent the rascal tumbling 
backward with a bullet through his body. He was 
after him, too, in an instant, beating at those below 
with the butt of his pistol, while Septimus ably backed 
up the attack, laying about him vigorously with his 
piece of splintered boarding. Men dived for their legs, 
hoping to bring them down in that way, but were 
met with blows which sent them heeling downward. 
Shots were fired by the ruffians, and were answered 
by the howls of the wretches hit by accident. Then 
a shout of consternation set the whole lot retreating. 

What was that? Tom stretched his ears to their 



378 With Wellington in Spain 

longest and listened. Septimus produced a very red 
and somewhat soiled silk handkerchief and slowly 
mopped his streaming forehead. Juan took off his 
glasses, wiped them thoughtfully, and then gave 
vent to the expression: "Well, I never!" 

"Soldiers! British!" shouted Septimus, beginning 
to dance from one toe to the other, and presenting a 
somewhat ludicrous appearance. "Tom, I tell you 
those are British soldiers!" 

"No — Portuguese and Spanish. Listen, that's my 
adjutant, Ensign John Barwood." 

Up through the windows of the house came the 
curt commands of an officer, commands issued in 
a language neither Spanish nor Portuguese, but a 
species of patois made more hideous by the obvious 
English accent of the officer. 

"Recover arms! Ground arms! Split up by 
sections. Shoot any man who comes from the house 
and refuses to surrender. Andrews and Howeley 
take charge each of a section. Ensign Alfonso is 
at the rear and guards the place in that quarter." 

"Hooray!" bellowed Tom, racing down the stairs 
and to the window of his late prison. "Jack, ahoy! 
Pass a few files into the house for our protection. 
I've got the two we've been searching for. Pass 
the news to Alfonso. His father's here, safe and 
sound. And mind you, don't let one of those beggars 
escape. Seize or shoot them all. Search their cloth- 
ing and send a couple of men at once to help me to 
search for papers." 



A Brilliant Capture 379 

The minutes which passed after that were some- 
what strenuous. Every exit from the house was 
guarded, and when a man dropped from one of the 
windows, and refused to halt at the command of one 
of Jack's parties, there came the snap of a musket, 
followed by a fusillade, for the first shot had missed 
the mark. A piercing shriek echoed through the 
yard, and when Tom craned his neck out of the 
window there was one of the rascals stretched still 
and stark on his face. 

By now the irregulars were pouring into the house, 
their bayonets fixed in readiness for trouble. They 
found the bulk of the conspirators crouching in their 
supper room amid the litter of bottles and glasses, 
while in their centre, looking still more woeful and 
downcast, was the fat man who had been injured. 
He was carried below after being searched, while the 
rest were mustered together, thoroughly searched, 
and then marched into the yard, where they were 
put under a guard. Then began a complete and 
thorough investigation of the premises. Documents 
and papers were dragged from hiding places, and 
as the night wore on towards early morning Tom 
was able, with the help of his friends, to unravel 
the whole mystery. 

"The same handwriting," he repeated on many an 
occasion, turning over some new document. "Plans 
of Badajoz as regarrisoned and defended by the 
British. Ditto of Ciudad Rodrigo, showing that these 
men have had agents in both places. Details here of 



380 With Wellington in Spain 

Wellington's forces, with the exact number of guns, 
their calibre, &c." 

"And here the same of the French," sang out 
Alfonso, now an interested spectator. "Double- 
dealing individuals, evidently." 

" I'll eat my hat if that writing isn't the same as 
that found in the house where your father and uncle 
were living," suddenly interrupted Jack. 

" Right — I've seen that all along. It goes to prove 
that the ringleader all through who managed this 
gang also abducted those two. Who was he?" 

"That is a question beyond me," declared Sep- 
timus, leaning over his son's shoulder. "We never 
saw a leader. He was never referred to in our pre- 
sence. We were suddenly set upon and bound and 
gagged. That same night we began the journey to 
Badajoz. Then came the siege, the assault, and our 
flight ; that is to say, we were hustled away from the 
fortress. And here you are, Tom. 'Pon my word, 
how you do turn up!" 

" Like the usual bad penny," grinned Jack, whereat 
Tom made a slash at him with his own sword, which 
the young adjutant had placed upon the rickety table. 

"But," he said, "how does it happen that you 
fellows yourselves turned up just in the nick of time? 
Things were getting decidedly warm for us at the top 
of those stairs." 

"Warm! — Boiling!" gasped Septimus, mopping 
his forehead at the thought, while Don Juan took off 
his spectacles and rubbed them. 



A Brilliant Capture 381 

" Beg pardon, sir, but there's officers ridden into 
the square," reported Andrews in his stentorian tones, 
thrusting a head into the room. " They've called for 
the officer commanding." 

" That's you," declared Tom, pointing at Jack. 
" I'm still a muleteer; haven't rejoined yet." 

But the generous Jack wouldn't have that at all. 
He insisted on Tom's obeying the order. 

' * This special job's ended," he said. "You've 
bagged that crowd, and mighty pleased Wellington'll 
be at the news. As for our arrival, why, your men 
acting as muleteers got to hear something after you 
had gone and sent along to me. I brought half a 
company into the city at once. Alfonso tumbled 
upon us almost as we were passing the yard, and — 
here we are, all aliv — o." 

It was a strange coincidence that Wellington should 
be the one on this occasion to turn up unexpectedly 
also, but at a moment which could only be called 
opportune. He and his staff had attended a ball given 
in honour of the arrival of the British, and there he 
was in the yard when Tom and his friends descended, 
tall and austere, his slim figure standing out in the 
moonlight. 

"You command this party!" he exclaimed in 
amazement, as a seeming muleteer drew himself to 
attention a few paces away and saluted. "You!" 

"Yes, sir." 

Ah! There was something familiar about the face 
and the figure. The voice reminded the general 



382 With Wellington in Spain 

of a young officer he had often had in his 
thoughts. 

"Name?" he asked curtly. 

" Lieutenant Tom Clifford, sir, in disguise. I have 
to report that the mission on which you sent me has 
been successfully carried out. With the help of my 
comrades I have captured or killed every member of 
a gang dealing in military secrets. There is abun- 
dance of documentary evidence to convict them." 

" Ah, that is news! And their leader?" 

" Over there, sir," explained Jack, who stood at 
attention beside our hero. 

The whole party crossed the yard to the far corner, 
where lay the body of the man who had attempted to 
escape, and who had been shot down in the act. A 
torch was produced, and the light enabled them to 
see the features. 

"The prisoners have admitted that he was their 
leader," said Jack. 

It was Jose. Tom turned away with a feeling of 
sickness. After all, it was not pleasant to think that 
a cousin could have been such a rascal. There, in 
fact, was the end of all his scheming, all his mean- 
ness and jealousy. 

"You will report to-morrow at headquarters, Mr. 
Clifford. I offer you and your officers and men the 
heartiest thanks — good morning!" 

Wellington was gone. Tom watched the gilt of 
his epaulettes shining as he went through the arch- 
way; then he turned. Jack was standing stiffly at 



A Brilliant Capture 383 

attention behind him. Septimus was rushing forward 
with outstretched hand. 

1 i Congratulations, sir," gasped the ensign. 

"To both of you," cried Septimus. "The chief 
of the staff gave me the news. Tom, you've been 
gazetted captain for that work at Salamanca, while 
Jack also gets a step, and Alfonso a mention. Now 
let's get to supper, or breakfast — which is it?" 

There is little more to tell of our friends. In the 
year which followed, that of 1813, they took the field 
again with Wellington, having meanwhile passed 
safely through the retreat from Burgos. Their corps 
saw service in the complicated battle of Vittoria, 
where the British were successful. Thence they 
helped at the capture of San Sebastian, while in 
October they actually marched into France, having 
driven the French from Spain altogether. The battle 
of Nivelle was then fought, Tom's men taking their 
part. The Nive was crossed after desperate skirmish- 
ing, and so the advance of the British force continued. 
Meanwhile, Napoleon's Russian disaster had set upon 
him a flood of enemies, all pressing for vengeance. 
To describe all that happened would need many a 
chapter; but in the end the power of Napoleon was 
shattered. He himself abdicated the throne of France, 
and was exiled to the island of Elba. Thence he 
escaped, and gathered the flower and manhood of 
France once more about him. But it was his fate to 
meet Wellington yet again. On the field of Water- 
loo that great general, with the help of the Germans, 



384 With Wellington in Spain 

broke his army to pieces. A fugitive, Napoleon 
handed himself into the care of the British, and 
thenceforward was exiled in St. Helena, where, amid 
the cacti and the ferns, he died peacefully in the 
truckle bed which had followed him on his campaigns. 

For Jack and Tom we have something more to say. 
The former was a captain at the end of the Peninsula 
War; Tom a colonel, the youngest in the army. 
Minus one arm, he looked, if anything, rather more 
fetching in his uniform than formerly, for he served 
on the commander-in-chief's staff at home till he 
retired. Then Jack went also. Cast your eyes back 
at the house of Septimus John Clifford & Son. It's 
not so very long ago that the old head of the firm 
could be seen asleep beneath the shade of that mul- 
berry tree. He was full of years and kindness. A 
white-haired clerk sat often beside him, a relic of the 
faithful lot who were there when Tom was a boy. 
And there were children about, Tom's, for he had 
left the service and married. Jack Barwood had 
married Marguerite, and he and his old friend met 
daily at the office, for they were partners, while 
Alfonso managed in Oporto. 

Thus our tale comes to an end. We take off our 
hats to Tom and his fellows. They helped to break 
down the menace which threatened England. 



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